Even though some children have closer relationships with their grandparents than with their parents, grandparents are not afforded the same child visitation rights as parents under the law. In fact, the law does not guarantee grandparents any child visitation rights at all. However, grandparents may petition the court to assign visitation rights to them, and the court may do so only after looking at all the circumstances of the case and determining what is in the best interest of the child. If you are seeking visitation rights for your grandchild in Texas, contact the family law attorneys at Scott M. Brown & Associates today to learn how we can help.
Federal Grandparent Visitation Rights
Grandparents are not guaranteed visitation rights under federal law. While states have the power to craft their own grandparent visitation laws, state laws must comply with the standards set out by the Supreme Court in Troxel v. Granville, which give parents the right over grandparents to determine what is best for their children.
Texas Grandparent Visitation Rights
Texas law also does not guarantee grandparents visitation rights. If parents decide to allow grandparents to visit their grandchildren, then courts will not interfere with the parents’ decision. However, parents do not always comply with grandparents’ request to visit their grandchildren. In such cases, Texas courts will look to the following factors to determine whether grandparent visitation is in the best interest of the child:
- Whether the child’s parents are divorced,
- Whether the parents have abused or neglected the child,
- Whether one or both parents have been incarcerated, found incompetent, or died,
- Whether a court has previously terminated the relationship between one of the parents and child, and
- Whether the child has lived with the grandparents for at least six months.
The court will evaluate the above factors in conjunction with an analysis of what is in the best interest of the child.
One situation in which grandparents do not have visitation rights no matter what is if the grandchild has been adopted by someone other than the child’s stepparent.
How Grandparents can Get Visitation Rights in Texas
In order to start fighting for their visitation rights, grandparents must first get their case into court so a judge can make a determination. This can be a big hurdle for many grandparents, as courts will typically only hear grandparent visitation petitions if one of the following is true:
- A parent is incarcerated,
- A parent is found mentally incompetent by the court,
- A parent has died, or
- A parent is currently not living with the child.
Only after grandparents get their case in front of a judge can a determination be made about their visitation rights. Notably, grandparents can only intervene in already existing custody cases and cannot bring original custody suits regarding their visitation rights.
If you have been cut off from visiting your grandchildren and believe you have a right to visitation with them, contact the lawyers at Scott M. Brown & Associates today to have your case evaluated by one of our attorneys in a confidential, one-on-one consultation. Contact us online or at 979-258-6813 to schedule your consultation.