What Are My Legal Rights As A Grandparent In Texas?
Grandparents and grandchildren share a special relationship that many would say is incomparable to any other relationship. However, not every grandparent can have this relationship. Circumstances may arise where it becomes difficult for grandparents to have a relationship with their grandchildren. In certain situations, Texas law gives grandparents some rights to combat this issue.
Grand Parent’s Possession and Access of Grandchildren
Texas law affords grandparents access and possession of a grandchild. However, if the parent does not want the grandparent to have this, the parents can limit or prohibit the grandparent’s contact with the grandchild. Grandparents facing this situation can sue for possession or access to a grandchild. Such grandparents must meet three requirements. They must show:
- restricting access and visitation would significantly impair the child’s physical health or emotional well-being,
- one of the child’s biological parent has not terminated their parental rights when the lawsuit is filed and
- the grandparent wanting possession and access to the child is a biological grandparent of the grandchild.
Meeting the requirements above is not enough. The grandparents must also show that one of the following situations applies. Specifically, the grandparents must show the parent who is the child of the grandparent is:
- not in actual possession of the child; or
- not competent.
Texas law does limit a grandparent’s rights in several situations. For instance, grandparents cannot sue for custody, possession or access if:
- both of the child’s parents are deceased,
- if the parent who is the child of the grandparent has had her parental rights terminated/relinquished, or
- the grandchild has been adopted by another person.
Getting Custody of Grandchildren
Often grandparents have more than a mere special relationship with their grandchildren. A grandparent may be raising their grandkids because of situations such as a parent’s death, the parent being incarcerated, or the parent being declared unfit. If these situations arise, a grandparent may petition a court for more than possession or access. They may petition the court for custody of the grandchild. To be awarded custody, the grandparent has to meet certain requirements. Namely, the grandparent must show:
- The grandparent is the child’s court-ordered guardian; OR
- The grandchild has been living the grandparent for six months; OR
- The parents have been neglecting/abusing the child; OR
- The parents agree that grandchildren should live with the grandparent.
It is important to remember that when a court has to decide child custody, possession and access issues for children, the court always makes its determination based on the child’s best interest.
If you are a grandparent or a parent seeking legal representation regarding grandparent rights, contact Corbett & Corbett LLP today.