The bond between a grandparent and a grandchild can play an important role in the upbringing of a child. However, some circumstances in the life of your child can impact this relationship. Our team at the Family Law Firm of Donna J. Smiedt in Arlington, TX, can help you understand your rights as a grandparent and help you establish visitation or custody. If you have questions about your grandparent rights, schedule a consultation with us today. You can contact us online or call us directly at 817-572-9900.
An Overview of Grandparent Rights in Texas
While grandparents do not have the exact same rights as a parent, there are certain rights a grandparent is entitled to in Texas. This includes exercising visitation and, in some cases, custody. One or more of the circumstances under which the court will allow grandparent visitation must first be met, and those circumstances are:
- The parents are divorced.
- The child lived with the grandparent for at least six months.
- Parental rights have been terminated.
- The death of a parent.
- There has been a finding of abuse or neglect by the parent.
- The parent is in jail or has been found incompetent.
The key is always that visitation or custody must be in the best interests of the child. To determine what constitutes the best interests of the child, the court will examine several factors, including the wishes of the child if he or she is old enough to express their desires.
Our focus is the child's best interests, and our family law attorneys are prepared to do everything in our power to make certain those interests are protected.
What Type of Grandparent Visitation is Allowed?
When a grandparent seeks to enforce visitation rights with a grandchild, it is important to keep in mind the type of visitation the court will allow. The terms of the visitation might be limited in time and frequency, and in the case of an adopted child, the grandparent will no longer be allowed to exercise grandparental visitation rights.
Can a Grandparent Obtain Custody?
Seeking custody of a grandchild is a much different legal undertaking than seeking visitation. Custody of a grandchild is the legal right to have that child live with the grandparent, with the grandparent assuming parental responsibilities. Texas courts consider granting custody to a grandparent when:
- The current home life of the grandchild is such that a serious physical or emotional risk is present.
- The parents have agreed to allow the grandparent to take custody of the child.
Both of these circumstances do not need to exist in order for custody to be granted to a grandparent. As might be expected, the evidence required to establish a substantial risk to the child is extensive. Court records of drug or alcohol abuse are frequently used in these types of cases, along with evidence from a mental health care provider. When a parent engages in activity that jeopardizes the safety of their child, the events leading up to the danger typically serve as the proof needed to request grandparent custody. Donna reviews each case on an individualized basis. Our focus is the child's best interests, and our family law attorneys are prepared to do everything in our power to make certain those interests are protected.