The bond between a grandparent and a grandchild can play an important role in their upbringing. Unfortunately, there are many ways in which this relationship can be jeopardized.
A grandparent rights attorney can advise you of your rights as a grandparent and help you establish visitation rights or custody rights.
Learn more about how the team at the Family Law Firm of Donna J. Smiedt in Arlington, TX, can help...
Why Should You Hire an Attorney?
Donna J. Smiedt is an experienced attorney. She began practicing law in 1986 and has been a Board Certified Family Law Attorney by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization since 1991.
Understand Your Rights
While grandparents do not have the exact same rights as a parent, there are certain rights you are still entitled to in Texas. This includes exercising grandparent visitation and, in some cases, custody.
Build a Strong Case
If you are seeking visitation or custody of a grandchild, you need strong evidence showing that it would be in their best interest. An attorney can submit compelling evidence to help you obtain visitation or custody rights.
Obtain a Favorable Outcome
By building a strong case backed by solid evidence, we can improve your negotiating ability, which can help you obtain a good outcome during mediation. If your case proceeds to court, our attorney will litigate your case.
Have an Attorney Review Your Case
Donna J. Smiedt is a family law specialist who focuses her practice on complex family law litigation. She earned her undergraduate degree from Southern Methodist University (SMU) at age 19 and went on to graduate from the SMU School of Law as one of the institution's youngest graduates at age 22. She now has more than 30 years of experience practicing law, and runs her private practice in Arlington, where she was named the Best Family Law Attorney by the readers of Arlington Today Magazine in 2018. She is also a member of several professional organizations, including:
- Tarrant County Bar Association
- Arlington Bar Association
- Arlington Professional and Businesswomen’s Club
- The Texas Academy of Family Law Specialists
- The College of the State Bar of Texas
The Family Law Firm of Donna J Smiedt serves clients in Arlington, Fort Worth, and surrounding areas. If you have questions about your rights as a grandparent, schedule a consultation at our law firm today. You can contact us online or call us directly at:
The team at the Family Law Firm of Donna J. Smiedt
Donna has represented my son in a child custody case and my wife and I in a grandparents custody case and she has done a masterful job. I don't know where my grandchildren would be without Donna. She has given them a chance to have a much better life and a chance to be loved and grow into well rounded adults. Donna is a very caring person that really looks out for the benefit of children and her clients.View On Google
Donna is an amazing, very talented family law attorney that I recommend highly. She helped me immensely during a very difficult time of my life during my divorce. She works tirelessly to ensure her clients are well represented, covers all contingencies, (even those you don’t think off), and the bottom line is she WINS the best outcome for your family.View On Google
Grandparent Rights in the State of Texas
State legislatures have recently started to recognize grandparent rights in family law disputes and Texas is one of several states that have established specific statutes regarding this matter. Still, the rights of grandparents are limited in Texas when compared to parental rights. Grandparents must meet very narrow requirements if a court is going to order visitation or custody rights.
The parents are divorced
The child lived with the grandparent for at least six months
Termination of Rights
Parental rights have been terminated
One or both parents have died
Abuse or Neglect
There has been a finding of abuse or neglect by the parent
The parent is in jail
The parent has been found incompetent
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.
In the case of a child that is adopted by someone other than a step-parent, the grandparent will no longer be allowed to exercise grandparental visitation rights.
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 child custody to a grandparent when:
- The current home life of the grandchild presents serious physical or emotional risk.
- The parents have agreed to allow the grandparent to take custody of the child.
Only one of these circumstances needs to exist in order for child custody to be granted to a grandparent.
If you are awarded custody of your grandchild, you may wish to seek child support, as well. Legally, both parents have an obligation to provide medical and financial support for their child. At our law office in Arlington and serving Fort Worth, our attorney can assist grandparents in seeking child support from one or both parents. Child support in Texas may cover basic expenses such as:
- Medical care
- Dental care
Donna was my attorney during a very difficult divorce. She is very supportive, professional, ethical and well-respected by her clients, the judges and DFW legal community. Her staff is fantastic. In addition to divorces, Donna has provided professional services in other family law issues I have faced as well will preparation. The services she and her staff have provided to me, my husband and children span a time frame of almost 20 years. I would never consider going to any other attorney for any type of family law issues. Her knowledge in family law cannot be found anywhere else and I highly recommend her.View On Google
Donna Smiedt is a phenomenal attorney. I was very lucky to have had her work on a touchy adoption case. I would recommend her to anyone. Her compassion and empathy is unique in the world of law yet feriously tough when she needs to be.View On Google
Get Help With Your Grandparent Rights Case
The Family Law Firm of Donna J. Smiedt can help grandparents exercise their rights. Let us help with your case today. For more information, call our law office at 817-539-6577 or contact us online. Our law office has represented clients from Arlington, Fort Worth, and surrounding areas.
How Your Case Will Proceed
The first step in filing for grandparent visitation or custody is to collect relevant information and establish a timeline of events. We want to show the court how much time you have spent and currently spend with your grandchild. We recommend starting a calendar that is dedicated to recording all of your time spent caring for them.
The first step in the legal process is to establish that you have standing to file for visitation or custody. Our attorney will file an affidavit and petition with the court. These documents will include basic information about yourself, spouse, and grandchildren, along with how your denied visitation is harming the child physically or emotionally.
Proceeding with Your Case
If the judge reviews and approves your case, you will get a date for your hearing. At this time, we will show that denying visitation or custody to the grandparent is not in the best interests of the child and submit evidence showing why the court should go against the wishes of the parent or parents. We may be able to resolve your case during mediation or we may go to court.
How We Build a Strong Case
The Best Interests of the Child
The key is always that visitation or child 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 protect those interests. Donna reviews each case on an individualized basis to determine the best approach to your defense.
Evidence Establishing a Risk to the Child
When a parent engages in activity that jeopardizes the safety of the child, the events leading up to the danger typically serve as the proof needed to request grandparent custody. There are several types of evidence that may be submitted to the court to establish a substantial risk to the child and obtain visitation rights or child custody rights. At our law office serving Arlington, Fort Worth, and surrounding areas, Donna reviews each case on an individualized basis, and submits the strongest evidence for consideration by the court.
Our law office will obtain any police reports detailing incidents of domestic abuse, child abuse, drug or alcohol problems, DUI, or mental health problems, all of which may be used as evidence against one or both parents.
Court records from criminal case proceedings may be used to show that one or both parents are incarcerated, or that the history of criminal behavior creates an unstable and dangerous home environment for the child.
Medical records may indicate a history of drug abuse, alcohol abuse, or mental issues. We may obtain medical records from primary care physicians or specialists, such as mental health care providers.
Our law firm has a team of experts that can evaluate one or both parents to determine if they are in sound mental health, or how a history of domestic or drug abuse can negatively impact a child's life.
Timeline of Events
It can be helpful for grandparents to have a calendar or diary that records the time spent with grandchildren. Include specific information about responsibilities such as dropping the child off at school and taking the child to doctor appointments.
Our law firm can submit photos of you spending time with your grandchild, including important life moments such as birthdays, holidays, sporting events, and school events. Photographs can illustrate your commitment to your ongoing relationship with your grandchild.
The Law Office of Donna Smiedt is absolutely wonderful. I have dealt with other attorneys regarding my divorce case and I can truly say that there is an obvious difference at Donna's office. Whether it be professionalism, sound advice, expediency, organization and more, their office is like none other with a constant winning attitude. As with anyone experiencing the challenges of divorce, it's comforting to trust someone who cares and understands what your going through. When I hired Donna, all my worries were alleviated since I knew they had myself and my kids best interest in mind.View On Google
Donna represented our family for a parental termination and step parent adoption. Her entire team did a great job over the 2 year process. I thought Donna's strategy and no nonsense approach to be exactly what we needed. Finding a parent who hides can typically be tough but she knew the legal way to navigate around it. At the end, my daughter was adopted by the man who is truly her dad. Seriously, an excellent legal team!View On Google