In the State of Texas, Grandparents have a very limited ability to obtain court-ordered possession of or access to their grandchildren. There are considerable requirements in place regarding such access, but taking a closer look can help you better understand your rights. The parameters for grandparents’ legal access to their grandchildren is laid out in the Texas Family Code.
A Texas court can order reasonable possession of one’s grandchildren or access to one’s grandchildren if three distinct elements are present in the case. These include:
- At the time that the grandparent requests relief, at least one of the grandchildren’s parents retains parental rights.
- The grandparent requesting possession can overcome the presumption that a parent is acting in the best interest of his or her children by denying the grandparent possession or access. This means that the grandparent must provide the court with a preponderance of the evidence that denying him or her possession of or access to his or her grandchildren significantly impairs those grandchildren's physical health or emotional well-being.
- The grandparent who is requesting possession of or access to the children is a parent of one of the children’s parents, and that parent has either been incarcerated for at least three months prior to filing, has been declared incompetent by the courts, is no longer living, or has lost actual or court-ordered possession of or access to the children in question.
In other words, a grandparent’s ability to obtain court-ordered possession of or access to his or her grandchildren is a tall order, but it does happen and is worth pursuing if you believe it is in the best interests of your grandchildren.
A Preponderance of the Evidence
When it comes to obtaining possession or access, you – as the grandparent – must be able to show that the children’s physical health or emotional well-being are significantly impaired by their lack of access to you. Further, you must have the preponderance of the evidence on your side, which means 51 percent or more of the credible evidence must support your claim that your grandchildren will be significantly impaired if they are denied access to your company and care. While this is a high bar and can be difficult to clear, if you believe your grandchildren's health and well-being are significantly jeopardized by your absence in their lives, it is a legal battle worth taking on. Your grandchildren's ongoing well-being, happiness, and health are far too important to leave to chance.