Grandparent Rights in Texas
In Texas, grandparents have limited legal rights to visit with or raise their grandchildren. Unfortunately, grandparents often have to go to court if they want conservatorship of their grandchildren, or even visitation rights. Texas law gives the parents of children superior rights to other persons absent a compelling reason.
Under what circumstances could I get custody of my grandchild?
Custody is typically called managing conservatorship. You can seek managing conservatorship of a child either by filing your own lawsuit or by joining an existing lawsuit regarding the child in any of the following circumstances:
- You have had actual care, control, and possession of your grandchild for at least six months ending not more than 90 days preceding filing of the lawsuit
- Your grandchild and your grandchild’s guardian, managing conservator, or parent lived with you for at least six months ending not more than 90 days before filing the lawsuit (if your grandchild’s guardian, parent, or managing conservator died before the lawsuit is filed)
- Your grandchild’s present living situation will significantly impair his or her emotional development or physical health—i.e., wherever the child presently lives places the child in physical or emotional danger
- Both of your grandchild’s parents, the surviving parent, or the managing conservator either filed the lawsuit for you to have managing conservatorship or agreed to file the lawsuit
The 90-day requirement ensures that the six months your grandchild spent with you happened recently, and not a decade ago when your nearly-grown grandchild was just a little baby. You may have unique facts that will justify a court giving you grandparent rights, so always check with a lawyer. Do not base your decision just on what you read on the internet websites. Every case is different and your lawyer might know of changes in the law or different circumstances that might allow possession of a grandchild.
What if I just want to visit with my grandchild?
Grandparents do not have an independent right to spend time with their grandchildren unless they meet rather strict and difficult requirements. The law makes no automatic provisions for the grandparents of children whose parents have divorced or separated to have access to their grandchildren. To get visitation rights, you may file a lawsuit or join an existing lawsuit regarding your grandchild if all three of the following statements apply:
- At least one biological parent of your grandchild has not had that parent’s rights terminated
- You can show that the denial of access to your grandchild would significantly impair your grandchild’s physical health or emotional well-being
- You are the parent of a parent of the grandchild
Additionally, one of the following four criteria must be met:
- The parent was incarcerated during the three months preceding the lawsuit
- The parent was found by a court to be incompetent
- The parent is dead
- The parent does not have actual or court-ordered possession of or access to your grandchild
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