If you have ever read about the Texas Family Code, then you know that the state has unique laws surrounding family law issues like custody and visitation. If you are a grandparent, you may feel that your grandchildren are not receiving the care they need. You might even begin considering legal options to remedy the situation.
You may be surprised to find that in the United States you have no Constitutional right to see your grandchildren. In addition, most states generally prefer to leave issues like this up to the parents of the child, allowing them to determine who can see the child.
Now, this does not mean that all hope is lost. Grandparents may have rights in some situations. The drawback is that you may have to go to court in order to claim them.
When Is Visitation Possible for Grandparents?
In some circumstances, the court may decide that grandparents have the right to limited visitation of a grandchild.
In order for the court to grant visitation, one or more circumstances must exist. For instance, the child's parents must be divorced, the parent must have been proven to abuse or neglect the child, the court must have terminated a parent-child relationship, or the parent must be dead, incarcerated, or deemed incompetent.
Grandparents may also be issued visitation if the child has lived with the grandparents for at least six months.
When Is Custody Awarded to Grandparents?
Grandparents are awarded custody in rare situations. Typically, Texas courts do not interfere with custodial situations without due cause.
Custody is generally only awarded to grandparents if the court determines that the child's current home is unsafe or that living with the grandparents is best for the child's physical and emotional welfare. An exception is made for instances in which one or both parents have consented to changes in custody.
When Is Conservatorship Awarded to Grandparents?
Conservatorship is often different from custody. With conservatorship, grandparents may have a right to be a part of decisions made regarding the child's upbringing.
In order for the court to grant conservatorship, the grandparent typically must have cared for or had custody of the child for six months and then filed for custody within 90 days. In some cases, the court will consider conservatorship if the child's living situation is deemed dangerous or if parents have opted for grandparents to take on this role.
In both custody and conservatorship cases, the court will consider a wide range of details carefully before arriving at a decision. The judge will keep in mind the child's needs and desires, but he or she will also think about which adult provides the safest and most stable home for the child.
How Can Grandparents Pursue Rights in Court?
Grandparents can file a suit with the court in the hope of receiving visitation or custodial rights of a child. If a grandparent receives custody, he or she may also sue for child support from the biological parents.
Keep in mind that the court will not award custody or visitation to a grandparent if the judge believes the relationship will have a negative impact on the child or their relationship with the parents.
One thing you can do to build evidence in your case is to keep track of all communication you have with the parents and children. Keep careful notes and craft a timeline of the major events involved in the case.
For the most part, the court wants to keep children with their parents unless an extenuating circumstance exists. This is why you need to hire an attorney to manage your case in court.
The Law Office of Cicily Simms is here to walk you through the process. We understand Texas family law and grandparents rights. Set up a consultation today to learn more.