In the State of Texas, parents are given the power to make pretty much any decision regarding the upbringing of their children, and this power does include the right to determine who has access to see the children, extended family included.
For many grandparents, this power can mean that they are not able to see their own grandchildren. However, does this mean that grandparents have no rights?
What Are Grandparent Rights?
Because parents are given the authority to make decisions in the best interests of their children, this means that grandparents do not have an absolute right to see their grandchildren or have custody of the grandchildren.
However, certain situations do exist where grandparents can seek custody of their grandchildren. These situations occur when the grandchildren are living in an environment that is not safe or stable.
Best Interests Of The Children
How is it possible that grandparents can get custody of their grandchildren? The reasoning behind this is the public policy of all Texas family courts that the best interests of the children must always be paramount.
If the court reviews the evidence and circumstances of the children’s living situation and determines that it is not in their best interests that the children live with either parent, the court can put the children in the custody of a third-party, which includes grandparents.
The easiest way to accomplish this goal is for the parents to consent to giving the grandparents custody of the children. Parents can execute a power of attorney, thereby giving the grandparents the right to have physical custody of the children and make all legal and financial decisions for the children.
However, while this is the easiest way to accomplish the goal, it is not always the most practical. Parents can easily rescind these powers of attorney in the event they later change their mind.
In many situations, while litigation can be complex and contentious, a court decision can hold a lot more weight and be more permanent.
If the grandparents are not able to get the consent of the parents or are concerned about the lack of permanency of a power of attorney, they can sue for managing conservatorship of the grandchildren. Managing conservatorship will be granted if the court finds one of the following:
- Proof exists that the child’s current relationship with the parents would cause harm to his or her physical or emotional health; or
- The parents or guardian of the children agree to give managing conservatorship to the grandparents.
In addition to being granted a managing conservatorship, if the grandparents had a close relationship with the grandchildren in the past but are no longer being able to see their grandchildren, they can seek possessory conservatorship by intervening in a child custody case that was started by either parent.
It is possible that the grandparent simply wants to see his or her grandchildren, but not have full conservatorship. A possessory conservatorship gives grandparents the right to visit with the children, but not the right to have them live with the grandparents full time.
However, like in a managing conservatorship, grandparents still have to prove that the child’s relationship with the parents would damage their physical or emotional health by cutting out the grandparent from their lives.
Parent Rights Trump Grandparent Rights
A word of caution should be given to grandparents seeking to enforce grandparent rights. While circumstances do exist where grandparents can be successful at getting access to their grandchildren, the State of Texas does not give a great deal of freedom in the ability to make decisions that grandparents believe are in the best interests of the grandchildren.
The grandparents may not agree with the decision-making of the parents, but unless the decisions put the children in risk of physical or emotional harm, it is unlikely the court will willingly trump the decisions made by the parents.
Before deciding to file for grandparent rights, it is always recommended that the grandparents meet with a family law attorney who can discuss the situation with them, review the case law and make an educated decision about whether the case has merit to proceed or whether the case would be successful.
Contact A Custody Lawyer At Scott M. Brown & Associates Today
To discuss whether you have rights to see your grandchildren, please contact family lawyers at Scott M. Brown and Associates. You can reach us by calling 281-972-4386 . We have offices in Angleton, Houston, and Pearland.