Grandparents play a critical role in every child’s life. Grandparents love their grandchildren, and the grandkids love their grandpas and grandmas. Unfortunately, however, a divorce may negatively affect the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren. (if you are going through divorce, click here to read how to keep it civil)
In many cases, grandparents may not even be able to see their grandkids once the grandchild’s parents get divorced. But what are the custody and visitation rights of grandparents in Texas?
Can a grandparent obtain custody and visitation rights to spend more time with the grandchildren following their parents’ divorce? Fortunately, yes. Grandparents do have a right to seek custody of their grandkids in limited circumstances.
If you are a grandparent who wants to obtain custody and visitation rights in Texas, do not hesitate to consult with a Copperas Cove child custody lawyer to explore your legal options.
Can a Grandparent Have Visitation Rights in Texas?
Yes, grandparents have a right to petition the court to establish their visitation rights when the grandchild’s parents file for divorce. If a child custody or visitation order is already in place, a grandparent may petition the court to modify the order if they have justifiable grounds for a modification.
In order to be awarded custody or visitation rights, the grandparent who filed the petition must demonstrate convincing evidence that the arrangement would be in the child’s best interests.
Under Texas law, courts may award visitation privileges to a grandparent if the following criteria are met:
One or both parents of the child still have custody rights over the child;
The petitioner can prove that grandparent visitation would have a positive impact on the child’s physical and/or emotional well-being; and
The petition is the parent of the child’s parent, who (a) has died, (b) has been sentenced to spend at least three months in jail, (c) has been declared mentally incompetent, or (d) lacks visitation with the child.
In order to prove that grandparent visitation would have a positive impact on the grandchild, the petitioner must prove that the child would be harmed without such visitation. Seeking visitation rights becomes even more challenging when there is no evidence that the child’s parents are unfit or are otherwise unable to care for the child.
Can a Grandparent Obtain Custody Rights of Their Grandkids?
Generally, grandparents cannot interfere with the parent-child relationship unless the parents are unfit to care for their kids, pose a threat to their children, or are otherwise unable to meet the children’s basic needs.
A grandparent may be able to obtain custody of their grandkids in the following situations:
The court has terminated parents’ parental rights;
The child’s parents have been deemed unfit to have custody;
The child’s parents consent to grandparent custody; or
The child’s current living conditions pose a serious threat to their physical or emotional health.
When parents file for divorce, the grandparents may seek custody or visitation by intervening in the custody case. Grandparents may be able to join the ongoing custody dispute.
However, it is vital to keep in mind that parents always have primary custody rights, while grandparents’ rights are secondary. However, since Texas courts make custody decisions based on the child’s best interests, they will consider if awarding custody rights to a grandparent would be in the best interests of the child.
The success of your grandparent custody case in Texas also hinges on the experience and skills of your lawyer. That is why it is essential to consult with a knowledgeable attorney before intervening in an ongoing conservatorship case or seeking visitation/custody rights.
Can a Biological Grandparent Seek Custody of the Grandchild Was Adopted?
Obtaining grandparent custody becomes more complicated if the grandchild was adopted because adoption means an automatic and permanent termination of biological parents’ rights to the child.
For this reason, a grandparent may not be able to seek custody or visitation with a grandkid. The only exception would be stepparent adoption. However, this approach is complicated because the grandparent must demonstrate evidence that:
The grandparent visitation would be in the child’s best interests; and
The visitation would not interfere with the child’s relationship with their stepparents.
What Can a Grandparent Do to Obtain Child Custody?
While the exact steps a grandparent should take to seek custody of their grandchildren will depend on the circumstances of each unique case, gathering certain types of evidence can help strengthen the grandparent’s custody case:
A calendar that tracks a grandchild’s days with the parents and grandparents
Photos and videos establishing the child–grandparent relationship
Testimony from an expert witness that proves that maintaining a child–grandparent relationship is in the child’s best interest.
Testimony from teachers, physicians, and other people who can prove that the grandparent has been taking good care of the grandchild.
Grandparents play a special role in the lives of their grandchildren. In most cases, grandkids can greatly benefit from maintaining a relationship with their grandpa and grandma even after their parents get divorced.
If you are a grandparent whose contact with grandchildren has been cut off due to a divorce of your daughter or son, you may be able to petition the court to obtain custody and visitation rights. However, it is highly advised to seek help from an experienced lawyer to help you decide the best course of action in your particular case.
Contact a Copperas Cove Child Custody Lawyer for a Free Case Review
If you are a grandparent seeking custody of your grandkids, you need an experienced lawyer to help you intervene in an established conservatorship case.
Once you demonstrate your arguments for obtaining child custody and visitation rights, the court will review your case to evaluate what would be in the child’s best interests. (read more about the factors that go into a child custody case)
The process of seeking custody and visitation of your grandchildren can be very complicated, which is why it is advisable to be represented by a knowledgeable attorney.
Consult with our Copperas Cove child custody lawyers at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard to discuss how you can obtain custody and visitation rights as a grandparent in Texas. Call 254-501-4040 or contact us online to book a free case review.