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Grandparent’s Rights in Texas

What are grandparents’ rights in Texas when it comes to custody or visitation in a difficult situation?

The relationship between a grandparent and a grandchild often plays an important role in the lives of both individuals.

In unfortunate situations involving either the death or divorce of a child’s parents, the relationship between a grandparent and a grandchild may become extremely limited or even severed, with little regard for the actual desires of either person.

In these types of situations, what legal remedy do grandparents have to continue to play a role in their grandchild’s life?

Prior to discussing visitation or custody of a grandchild, it is important to note that grandparents’ rights in Texas with regards to a grandchild are always going to be considered of secondary importance to that of the child’s parents.

However, in some situations, the best interests of the child will determine if a grandparent may receive visitation or custody of their grandchild.

With this in mind, grandparents’ rights in Texas are explained in some detail below.

Grandparents’ Rights in Texas — Your Standing

First, it must be determined in which instances a grandparent has standing to bring a claim before a court to determine any potential rights to possession, access, or custody.

Filing Original Petition

There are a few instances in which the grandparent may bring a suit to determine their rights.

The ability to bring a suit is available to a grandparent if the parents of the child are deceased, or if the grandparent has had actual control or possession of the grandchild for at least six months prior to the filing of the suit.

A grandparent may also bring a suit in order to be named the managing or primary conservator of a grandchild if the child’s current circumstances significantly impair the child’s physical health or emotional development, or if the child’s parents or custodian of the child filed a petition with a court or have consented to the suit.

Intervening

In situations where a suit has been filed to determine the appointment of managing conservators for a child, if it is determined by the court that both a grandparent has had substantial past contact with the grandchild and that naming the child’s parent will significantly impair the child’s physical health or well-being, the court may allow the grandparent to intervene in a pending suit.

Grandparents’ Rights in Texas — Visitation

Assuming that a grandparent has standing to bring a suit to assert their rights to their grandchild, what rights do they have to some form of visitation with their grandchild?

In Texas, courts will only grant a grandparent the right to receive visitation in a few specific circumstances, which are rather complicated.

In addition to visitation or possession being in the best interests of the grandchild, the court requires one of the following:

  • At least one parent of the child has not had their parental rights terminated
  • The grandparent must prove that the denial of a grandparent’s access to their grandchild would significantly harm the physical health or emotional well-being of the child
  • The grandparent is a parent of the parent of the child at issue and the parent of the child meets one of the following criteria:
  1. Has been incarcerated during a three-month period leading up to filing the suit
  2. Is deceased
  3. Has been found to be incompetent
  4. Does not have actual or court-ordered possession or access to the child

Grandparents’ Rights in Texas — Additional Limitations

In addition to the previously mentioned difficulties a grandparent faces when attempting to assert their rights over their grandchild, there are a few other limitations that exist.

These are situations where a grandparent may not request visitation or access to a grandchild.

By Texas statute, a grandparent may not request to have access or possession of a child if any of the following conditions are true about each of the child’s parents:

  • Have died
  • Had their parental rights terminated by a court order
  • Relinquished their rights to their child voluntarily

Grandparents’ Rights in Texas — Concluding Thoughts

Ultimately, the actual rights that a grandparent has with regards to their grandchildren are very limited.

The Texas legislature has made it clear that any rights that a grandparent may have will almost always be secondary to those rights of a parent.

While the rights of a grandparent to a grandchild may be limited, there are situations where the best interests of the grandchild, along with some additional factors, may enable a grandparent to have custody or access to their grandchild.

We’re Here to Help

Are you a grandparent wondering about their rights to custody or visitation to a child?

If you’ve looked into grandparents’ rights in Texas but haven’t consulted experts, our family law attorneys at Hayes, Berry, White & Vanzant can help.

We’d like to answer any questions about grandparents’ rights in Texas. For more information, please contact us here or call us at 940-387-3518.

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