Divorcing couples in Texas usually devote a great deal of time and energy to resolving any disputes they may have regarding child custody and visitation. These arguments (and their resolution) often ignore two or more individuals who feel enough devotion for any minor children that they often assert a right to regularly visit and take custody of the children: the children’s grandparents.
Texas laws give grandparents specific rights to visit and have custody of minor children. Understanding these rights may help couples resolve their own differences.
For grandparents to have enforceable rights, a court must issue an order specifying how and when the rights can be enforced. The court must first find that grandparent visitation or custody serves the best interests of the child and that one of the following circumstances exist:
- The parents are divorced
- One or both parents abused or neglected the child
- One or both parents have been incarcerated or found incompetent or died
- A court order has terminated the existing parent-child relationship
- The child has lived with the grandparents for at least six months
Grandparents’ right of custody or visitation is not absolute; it depends upon satisfying at least one of the conditions cited above.
How a grandparent can assert a right to custody
A grandparent’s best course of action to claim custody of a minor grandchild is filing a motion with the court that had jurisdiction over the divorce. In filing this motion, the grandparents must submit evidence showing that the child’s best interests will be served by awarding custody to them.
The evidence must also address at least one of the five conditions listed above. The grandparent’s claim for custody can also include testimony of family members, expert testimony from healthcare professionals concerning the effect on the child of awarding custody or visitation rights to the grandparents as evidence.
Legal advice from an experienced family law attorney
Any grandparent who is contemplating bringing a motion to create or enforce rights of visitation or custody would be wise to consult an experienced family law attorney for an evaluation of the specific situation, an assessment of the evidence and an opinion on the likelihood of prevailing.