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Grandparent Custody Rights in Texas

Taly Thiessen
Grandparent Custody Rights in Texas

Grandparents’ custody rights in Texas is a frequently overlooked topic in Texas family law. So much ink has been spilled about how to win a child custody case—from a parent’s perspective. It’s easy to forget about the rights of the child’s extended family, including their grandparents.

However, invoking grandparents’ rights in Texas may be the best solution for certain custody situations. Some grandparents go beyond just doting on their grandsons and granddaughters. They may play a more important role in their grandchildren’s lives than either or one of the child’s parents. And when a divorce takes place, grandparents may have just as many questions as the child’s parents. For example, we often hear, “What legal rights do you have as a grandparent?” or “How do I get custody of my grandchild?

Let’s look into how grandparents factor into Texas law, custody agreements, grandparent custody rights in Texas and what parents and grandparents need to know before they saddle up to the negotiating table.

Can grandparents get visitation rights in Texas?

Learning about grandparents’ custody rights in Texas often starts with the basics: seeing your grandchild. As a grandparent, a divorce can trigger a lot of events unrelated to you-taking on a more dominant role with the grandchild may be one of them. Parents will figure out how child support is determined in Texas, prenups in Texas may have to be examined, among many more items for divorce lawyers to sort out.

But just because your child’s marriage didn’t work out doesn’t mean you have to miss out on your grandchild’s life. Typically, the state prefers that a child stays with with one of their parents, so most likely you’ll need to negotiate visits with one or both of your grandchild’s parents.

If you’re lucky enough to get along with either the parent(s) with custody, you may not need to invoke your rights. In this case, it’s better to work with the parent(s) to integrate yourself into your grandchild’s visitation schedule, especially during their busy holiday schedule.

But what if you don’t get along with the parent(s) who have sole or joint custody of the child, and it’s impossible to see your grandson or granddaughter? Emotions may be running high, but in cases like these, it’s possible to file a lawsuit. You can invoke grandparents rights in Texas for visitation if your situation meets all three of the following requirements:

  1. You’re a biological grandparent of your grandchild.
  2. One parent still has not terminated their parental rights at the time of your lawsuit.
  3. Not having access would significantly impair your grandchild’s physical health or emotional well-being.

If you pass the first test of grandparents’ rights in Texas, you must now prove that one of the following is also true of your situation:

1. The parent taking care of the child is ruled incompetent.
2. The parent has died.
3. The parent has been in prison 90 days before you filed the suit.
4. The parent doesn’t have custody of the child.

Of course, life doesn’t often fit into bulleted lists, so there may be other circumstances you need to bring to your lawyer’s attention for better odds. Not to mention your chances of success for grandparents rights in Texas also depends on your Judge and your Court. No matter what, don’t get discouraged, but do educate yourself on your rights!

How do I get custody of my grandchild?

We sometimes hear that grandparents’ custody rights in Texas can be an undesired call. But it’s not because of the grandchildren—it’s reckoning with your own children. It’s never anyone’s desire for parents to be unable to care for their own children. Unfortunately, that’s sometimes the case. The following tips should help you in this endeavor for the children.

Grandparents can seek custody—or managing conservatorship, as it’s called in Texas-even if their grandchild’s parents are not getting divorced. As you’ll see below, requirements for grandparents’ custody rights in Texas are quite different from grandparents’ rights in Texas for visitation. Grandparents must meet one of the following requirements – as well as be in the child’s best interest- in order to have a case for seeking full custody of their grandchild.

  1. The child is living in an emotionally or physically dangerous environment.
  2. The child’s parent(s) or legal guardian have either agreed to let the grandparents have custody or have filed a lawsuit to that end.
  3. You’ve had possession and been caring of the child for 6 months or more and have lost possession within 90 days of filing the suit.
  4. The child and the child’s parent (or other legal guardian) have lived with you for 6 months or more, and did so within 90 days of filing the suit.

Sometimes the situation at the child’s home may be such that you don’t need to take full custody of the child. However, you want to ensure that you have the right to be involved in making decisions about the child’s life.

Fortunately, grandparents’ rights in Texas include a type of “custody” called a possessory conservatorship. Possessory conservatorship may entitle you to input (but not final say) on non-invasive medical decisions, moral or religious training of the child and may entitle you to overnight visits.

You can file for possessory conservatorship two different ways-in an original lawsuit or through grandparents’ intervention in Texas.

  1. Original lawsuit: To file for possessory conservatorship via an original lawsuit, a grandparent must meet requirements 3 and 4 of managing conservatorship.
  2. Intervention: The file for possessory conservatorship via intervention, the case must be filed during an ongoing lawsuit regarding the child’s welfare. You will need to have spent demonstrably significant amounts of time with the child, and you must prove that living with either of child’s parents would be physically or emotionally dangerous.

How to start fighting for grandparents' rights in Texas

The best ways to invoke grandparents’ rights in Texas are similar to what a parent should do to win child custody case. These include finding a trustworthy Houston custody lawyer that will fight for what’s best for you and your grandchild.

Taly Thiessen combines her family law expertise with her experience in criminal law to craft winning strategies in Texas child custody cases. She will help you assemble the most compelling evidence and build you a strong case for custody of your grandchild. Our team will get you back to spending valuable time with your grandchild as soon as possible, so schedule your consultation today.

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