Grandparents often play a crucial role in the lives of their grandchildren. When children’s parents are incarcerated, found incompetent by a court or die, grandparents can provide a nurturing and stable environment.
Grandparents wishing to obtain visitation or custody of their grandchildren must meet certain legal standards. This article explores grandparents’ rights in Texas.
Although Texas prioritizes parental rights, understanding what are grandparents rights in Texas is also essential. It recognizes that grandparents can significantly influence their grandchildren’s lives. Grandparents often provide a loving and stable environment when children’s parents cannot. They also contribute to a child’s well-being and growth by offering a different perspective and unique life experiences.
However, a parent’s desire to restrict access to their child can sometimes lead to a family law lawsuit. Suppose you are being denied visitation rights to your grandchild. In that case, working with an attorney who can help you construct a strong case and present compelling evidence that would convince the court that granting you these rights is in your grandchild’s best interests is essential.
To obtain visitation rights, a grandparent must show that denying these rights will significantly affect a child’s physical or emotional well-being. This can be a difficult task to accomplish because the courts must weigh numerous factors. These include the proximity of your home to the child’s parents, any history of abuse or neglect by the grandparents, any past relationship between the child and the grandparents, the preference of the child if they are old enough to express a valid one, the stability of the grandparent’s home environment, and the existing bond.
In rare situations, grandparents may file for custody or conservatorship of their grandchildren. However, in most cases, courts will only grant these rights if they believe the parents are unfit or incapable of raising their children.
In Texas, grandparents do not automatically possess a legal right to visitation or custody of their grandchildren. Instead, such cases hinge on meeting a stringent legal standard to pursue these rights. First, the grandparent must have established that they have “standing.” This means they have a relationship with the child that is significant enough that it would be harmful to cut off that connection.
A petition for visitation must also establish that the parent in question either voluntarily terminated their parental rights or is unfit to care for their child. In addition, the court must consider whether granting visitation to the grandparents would significantly impair the child’s physical or emotional well-being. If the parents argue this is false, the grandparents must present evidence to counter those claims.
The best way to approach these situations is through open communication and negotiation with the parents. This can often result in successful visitation agreements outside of court. However, if such options prove unsuccessful, retaining the services of a qualified family law attorney specializing in grandparents’ rights is advisable. Such an individual can provide guidance, prepare legal documents and represent the grandparents in court. This can ensure the best outcome for all parties involved, especially the children. The intricacies of parental rights can create many issues that are difficult to navigate.
A parent may refuse to allow grandparents access to a child out of spite, religious beliefs or an unspoken desire to control the relationship. Alternatively, children in dangerous situations—such as a parent who is incarcerated or abusing drugs and alcohol—may require the immediate attention of grandparents. In these cases, grandparents can petition the court for possession (conservatorship) of their grandchildren to care for them indefinitely or for a specified time frame.
In a typical case, however, a grandparent must demonstrate that their grandson is in danger to have any chance of success. This means proving that the parent cannot meet the child’s basic needs—including daily care, supervision, discipline, food and shelter. It is typically easier for grandparents to secure visitation rights than full conservatorship.
A family law lawyer can help grandparents build a strong case by gathering relevant information that supports their claim for access or custody. They can also advise grandparents of their options and potential pitfalls. Because the Supreme Court’s decision in Troxel has established a rebuttable presumption that parents act in their best interests, a grandparent must carefully align their desires with the legal framework. Even so, a strong case and timely action could make all the difference. To learn more about your specific circumstances and what steps you should take to protect your grandkids, contact a Texas grandparents’ rights attorney from O’Neil Wysocki P.C.
In some cases, grandparents may wish to seek custody (also called “conservatorship”) of their grandchildren. The legal process is complex and can vary depending on the situation, so speaking with an experienced family law attorney is important.
The most common type of conservatorship is shared or joint managing conservatorship, which gives both parents equal rights and responsibilities for the children. A grandparent can petition the court to be named a joint managing conservator if they can prove it would be in the child’s best interests. They must also demonstrate that they have actual care, control and possession of the child for at least six months before filing the petition.
A judge must determine that living with the grandparent is in the child’s best interest. It can be difficult to overcome the presumption that a parent acts in their child’s best interests, so it’s important to have an attorney who understands the law and can build a strong case for you.
Grandparents seeking more access to their grandchildren can build a strong case by gathering evidence, including character references, calendars and photographs, that showcase the nature of the relationship. Keeping detailed records of your contact with the children is also a good idea.