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What Are Grandparents’ Visitation Rights under Texas Law?

Overall, Texas law gives parents priority when it comes to custody of their children. Parents also have the right to determine who has visitation with their children and to what extent. Other parties can have visitation as long as the parents agree. So when everyone agrees, parents and grandparents, there are no issues. When conflicts arise, grandparents could have a hard time under Texas law, but are not without rights under certain circumstances.

Grandparents have limited rights to access (visitation) or possession (custody) of their grandchildren under Texas law. Their ability to obtain custody or visitation largely depends on the conditions of at least one of the biological or adoptive parents.

Based on the Texas Family Code § 153.433, the courts can order visitation or custody for grandparents under the following conditions:

  • At least one biological or adoptive parent has not had parental rights terminated
  • The grandparent can prove that denying him or her custody or visitation would considerably harm the child's physical health or emotional development
  • The grandparent is the parent of a parent who
    • Is in jail or prison
    • Was found incompetent by the court
    • Is dead
    • Does not have actual or court-ordered custody or visitation rights to the child

Courts cannot grant visitation to grandparents when someone outside their family has adopted their grandchild. Courts do not allow grandparents to request visitation when someone other than the child's stepparent has adopted the child. However, the courts may grant visitation when parents are divorced and the child resided with the grandparent for six months or longer.

Texas laws for grandparent visitation are complicated. The best way to understand your rights is to discuss the details of your situation with an experienced lawyer.

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