Grandparents and grandchildren can have a tight emotional bond. Texas does not grant intervention rights to grandparents when a family unit is intact and healthy and the children are well-adjusted because a presumption exists that parents will always act in the best interests of their children. Grandparents may, however, petition for court-ordered visitation and even custody in certain situations that arise when, as the Texas Practice Guide puts it, “the original family unit is fractured.”
Petitioning for Visitation or Custody
Grandparents are included in the category of relatives who may apply for custody of a child in Texas. According to the Family Code, they may receive custody of or visitation with their grandchildren if such an arrangement is in the best interests of the children and at least one of the circumstances below applies:
- The parents have divorced.
- There is evidence that the child has been neglected or abused by the parent.
- The parent has died, been declared incompetent, or been incarcerated for at least three months prior to the filing of the petition.
- The parent’s rights have been terminated by the court. In this instance, the grandparents are required to meet certain deadlines and requirements pertaining to past contact or sibling adoption.
- One or both parents voluntarily agree to bestow parental rights and responsibilities to the grandparent
The court may also grant grandparent visitation if the child has lived with the grandparents for at least six months. If parental rights are terminated by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, grandparents may seek custody (known in Texas as a managing conservatorship) of their grandchildren within 90 days of the termination date.
Grandparents retain their rights to reasonable contact with their grandchildren if the latter are adopted by a stepparent. It is not, however, an automatic right: the grandparents must demonstrate that loss of content could be emotionally or physically harmful for the children. Access rights could potentially be lost, however, if the children are adopted by any other party and both parents are deceased or have lost / given up their parental rights.
If you are a Texas grandparent who wants to preserve a close and loving bond with your grandchildren, contact Goldsberry & Associates today for a confidential consultation. We will review your options regarding visitation or custody and advise you accordingly.