Visitation and custody rights for grandparents

When it comes to divorcing parents who reside in Texas, the state's laws make accommodations for grandparents who wish to obtain visitation or custody rights of their grandchildren. Although the rights of grandparents generally cannot trump the fundamental rights of the child's legal parents, the laws give them limited privileges under certain circumstances.

Grandparents who wish to obtain full custody of a grandchild and who have not been granted a power of attorney by the parents must request custody by filing a civil lawsuit. The suit can only be filed if the action is done in the best interest of the child and if one of several circumstances applies. The conditions include if the grandchild resided with the grandparent for at least six months within 90 days of filing the suit or if there is proof that the child was neglected or abused by the parents. The court will also consider giving custody to a grandparent who has been assigned by the court to be the child's guardian or if the child's mother and father or one living parent or the child's legal guardian or custodian agree to the request.

Although the courts will not grant absolute visitation rights to grandparents, grandparents will be allowed limited visitation rights as long as the child's best interest is protected and circumstances similar to a custodial case apply such as if the child's parents divorce or the child was neglected or abused by a parent. In the event the child's parent died, becomes incompetent or is jailed, the grandparent may likely gain visitation rights. However, if a non-family member adopts the child, the grandparent loses all visitation rights to the grandchild.

Many grandparents seeking visitation or custody rights retain a lawyer who is familiar these matters. A lawyer also may help them obtain child support if custody is granted.

Source: Attorney General of Texas, "Grandparents' Page", December 16, 2014

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