Can a Parent Sign a Legal Document on Behalf of a Minor in Texas?

By Marcy Brinkley

In general, a parent can sign a legal document on behalf of a minor in Texas unless a court order or legal guardianship gives that right to another individual. Since the document will be void if not signed by an authorized adult, the other party should take the time to determine if the parent is authorized and should word the document in a way that requires the parent to attest to that fact. If a non-parent claims to be authorized to sign on behalf of the child, the other party should ask for documentation to that effect.

Parent-Child Relationship

The Texas Uniform Parentage Act defines which individuals in a child's life may be considered a parent. The mother is the woman who gave birth to the child. Determining the biological father can be more challenging; however, Texas law presumes that the mother's husband is the father of the child unless he denies it. If the marriage ended through divorce or death no more than 300 days before the child's birth, the husband is still the presumed father. Other ways to establish a father-child relationship include adoption, acknowledging paternity or being declared the father by a court after a paternity test. In adoption situations, the biological parents' rights are terminated and the adoptive parents assume all parental rights and responsibilities. Stepparents, grandparents, siblings and other individuals do not fall into the category of parents for purposes of signing legal documents.

Minors

A child under the age of 16 years old always needs the signature of a parent or guardian on a legal document. However, an older teenager may be able to sign documents for himself if he has obtained a court order removing the disabilities of minority, the Texas term for emancipation of a minor. To qualify for emancipation, the child must be at least 16 and living on his own, or at least 17 and supporting himself.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Parental Rights and Duties

The Texas Family Code provides a detailed list of the rights and duties of parents that includes obligations related to legal documents and actions. Among the duties of parents are supporting, caring for, controlling, protecting and reasonably disciplining the child, as well as managing his money and acting as his agent unless a guardian has been appointed to perform those functions. Parents' rights include representing the child's legal interests and making decisions about legal actions, consenting to marriage or entry into the Armed Forces, and consenting to medical, dental and psychiatric treatment.

Altering Parents' Rights and Duties

Under certain circumstances, a parent's rights may be altered by agreement or by court order. For example, parents may decide in a divorce situation that the mother will have the sole right to sign legal documents on behalf of the child or they may agree to share equally in these decisions. On the other hand, a parent whose relationship with the child is terminated by the court no longer has any rights or duties as a parent.

Guardians and Conservators

In certain circumstances, someone other than the parent may have the right and duty to manage the child's legal affairs. In personal injury settlements involving a minor, for example, the court routinely appoints a guardian ad litem to make legal decisions during the case to prevent a conflict of interest on the part of the parents. If a court has ordered that a non-parent be appointed as a guardian or managing conservator, that individual has the right to sign legal documents on behalf of the minor unless the order states otherwise. The Armed Forces, for example, require single parents to arrange for a non-parent to assume the parental role while the servicemember is on active duty. In Texas, the single parent might ask the court to appoint her parents as joint managing conservators and herself as possessory conservator. She would have the right to visit with the children and the duty to support them, but the managing conservators would have the right to enter into legal agreements on the children's behalf.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
The Rights & Responsibilities of a Temporary Guardian in Arkansas
 

References

Related articles

Temporary Medical Power of Attorney for Child

A temporary medical power of attorney for a child allows a caregiver to make medical decisions for the child on behalf of the parents. Parents commonly use this type of power of attorney to ensure their child's safety if they're going to be unavailable to give consent to emergency or routine treatments. Although only one parent is needed to grant the caregiver powers, the other parent retains more authority over the child than the named caregiver.

Medical Power of Attorney for Children

A medical power of attorney for a child, or child medical consent, is a legal form that is used when the parents are unable to consent to a child's medical treatment for a period of time. This can occur when the child is away at camp or under the care of a relative for a period of time. This form allows the caregiver to make medical care decisions that the parents would normally make.

The Power of Attorney for Parental Rights

Parents must often balance their work life and other responsibilities with the needs of their children. If a situation arises that makes a parent temporarily unavailable for child care duties, the parent may have the option of signing a power-of-attorney document that names a person to make decisions about the child in the parent’s absence. Whether this option exists depends on the laws of the state where the parent resides, but the parent should consult with an attorney before finalizing any arrangements to ensure that all of the state’s legal requirements are satisfied.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Power of Attorney for Minor Children

A power of attorney for a minor child allows a parent to designate another adult to make decisions for his child ...

Can a Sibling With Power of Attorney Prevent Other Siblings From Seeing a Parent?

A power of attorney is a legal document that authorizes an individual or a business to perform specific tasks on behalf ...

Texas Family Laws on Child Custody & Visitation

When parents divorce in Texas, the final divorce decree must include a parenting plan for children who are under the ...

Medical Power of Attorney for Kids

A medical power of attorney is normally used to authorize one person, known as the attorney-in-fact or agent, to make ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED