Grandparent Rights in Texas
Becoming a grandparent is an amazing experience for most people. The opportunity to bond with a grandchild and play a role in shaping who that child will become is something most of us look forward to with great anticipation. Sometimes, however, your rights as a grandparent are at issue. Fort Worth family court lawyer Jon Boyd explains what rights you have as a grandparent in Texas.
The Role of Grandparents
As a grandparent, you are supposed to get the best of both worlds. You can spend quality time with your grandchildren — and then send them home to their parents. You get to spoil them with attention and gifts without being obligated to support them. All of that, however, depends on you enjoying a positive relationship with the parent(s) of your grandchildren. Unfortunately, however, circumstances often cause grandparents to turn to the legal system for help. If you find yourself in just such a position, understanding where you stand in the eyes of the law and what options you have within the legal system is crucial.
When Might Grandparent Rights Be at Issue?
A variety of circumstances might result in the desire to turn to the legal system as a grandparent. One common reason is that you have a strained, or non-existent, relationship with your child. When that is the case, the parent (your child) may outright forbid contact with your grandchild or make it difficult for you to maintain a relationship with your grandchild. Conversely, you might also look to the legal system for help if you believe that your own child is neglecting, or even abusing, your grandchild and you want to intervene.
Does a Grandparent Have Rights in Texas?
Regardless of your reason for wanting to turn to the legal system, it is imperative that you know when the legal system may be able to help and when it cannot help. In Texas, a child’s parent has the right to decide with whom the child has a relationship under most circumstances. That includes grandparents. If your own child does not want you to see your grandchild, the law may not be able to help. There are, however, several important exceptions to this general rule. Texas may enforce a grandparent’s rights to visitation with a child if any of the following circumstances apply:
The parents divorced.
The parent abused or neglected the child.
The parent has been incarcerated, found incompetent, or died.
A court-order terminated the parent-child relationship.
The child has lived with the grandparent for at least six months.
Keep in mind that while one of the above circumstances needs to apply, the court’s ultimate decision must be made using the “best interest of the child” standard. For example, if your son and his wife divorce, and your former daughter-in-law will not allow you to see your grandchild, the court will not automatically grant you visitation. The same is true even if your grandchild has lived with you for six months or longer. While the court will take that into consideration, it does not guarantee that the court will grant you visitation if the child’s natural parent asserts his/her custodial rights and refuses you visitation.
How Do I Pursue My Grandparent Rights?
If you have been denied visitation with your grandchild, or you wish to pursue conservatorship (custody) or legal guardianship of your grandchild, you must petition the appropriate court, or the State of Texas must do so if the State has jurisdiction over the child. Either way, you will need to go through the requisite proceedings in family court which is why you should consult with an experienced attorney if you foresee the need to pursue your grandparent rights.
Contact a Fort Worth Family Court Lawyer
If you have additional questions or concerns about your rights as a grandfather in Texas, contact an experienced Fort Worth family court lawyer at Boyd Family Law to schedule your appointment today.