Do Grandparents Have Legal Rights?
Grandparents play a significant role in their grandchildren’s lives and can build strong bonds that are timeless. However, parents and grandparents are not considered equals under Texas law. Although a grandparent may petition for visitation with a grandchild in Texas, or modify an existing visitation order, that doesn’t mean their request will automatically be granted by the court.
Specifically, Texas’ grandparent statue allows visitation when all of the following applies:
- At least one biological or adoptive parent still has parental rights over the child
- The grandparent filing for visitation establishes that denying visitation would harm the child’s physical health or emotional well-being
- The grandparent seeking visitation is the parent of the child’s parent, and the child’s parent (1) has been incarcerated for at least three months, (2) has been declared mentally incompetent by the court, (3) has passed away or (4) is not currently living with the child.
Before a judge will award visitation privileges, the grandparent is required to prove that visitation is in the child’s best interests. Additionally, grandparent visitation is also appropriate when it doesn’t interfere with the parent-child relationship.
Once the grandparents reach the courtroom, the court may order visitation if it would be in the child’s best interests and one of the following conditions exist:
- The parents divorced
- The parent abused or neglected the child
- The parent has been incarcerated, found incompetent, or died
- A court-order terminated the parent-child relationship
- The child has lived with the grandparent for at least six months
In regard to adopted children, adoption severs a grandparent’s ability to seek visitation with a grandchild since the grandparent rights come through a parent’s rights. However, one exception is in the case of stepparent adoption. Alas, even then, a grandparent needs to prove that visitation serves the grandchild’s best interests and doesn’t significantly interfere with the stepparent-child relationship.
Whether you are actively being denied rights over your grandchild or wish to establish rights, The Clark Law Firm can help. Our Fort Worth family lawyer’s top priority is to provide you with personalized, compassionate service and ensuring you understand your legal options.
For more information, contact us and schedule a free consultation today.