There are many different reasons gradparents can file for custody of their grandchild in Texas. Learn all about grandparent custody in this blog.
In the United States, 7.7 million children, or one out of every ten live with a grandparent. Grandparents are the primary caregivers for three million of those children.
In Texas, the focus of the court when dealing with child custody is to award parents shared custody whenever possible. This allows children to develop and maintain meaningful relationships with both parents. There are times when alternative custody arrangements may be in the best interests of the child.
One of those alternative arrangements is the granting of conservatorship to a child’s grandparents. If you are wondering about the reasons grandparents can file for custody read on. We are going to share everything you need to know about grandparents’ legal rights to custody in Texas.
Reasons Grandparents Can File for Custody
The law favors awarding custody to a child’s parents. For grandparents or any other relative to obtain conservatorship in Texas they must prove there is a need for them to assume this role. One way of doing this is to show the court the child has been under your custody or control for a minimum of six (6) months prior to filing your case.
Parents who are agreeable to granting custody of their child to grandparents may sign a Texas Minor Child Power of Attorney Form. This document awards temporary guardianship to the grandparents.
The power of attorney allows them to make all decisions regarding the child’s care. The problem is this is a temporary arrangement that may be revoked by the parent(s) at any time.
The power of attorney is a solid document if there is a reason for temporary custody that is not related to the child’s environment being unsafe. This may be due to a parent traveling for work, accident or injury, or military deployment. If there is reason to question the safety of the child under the custody of their parents, a court order holds more standing.
Whenever the custody of a child comes before the court the best interest of the child is always the primary consideration of the court pursuant to Texas Family Code §153.002.
Grandparents may seek a managing conservatorship through the court. If the court grants conservatorship, the grandparents have full legal control over the minor child(ren). This includes determining where the child lives, attends school, religious instruction, and medical decisions.
There are two instances in which a grandparent may file for conservatorship. The first is if there is evidence that the child’s current living environment is detrimental to the child’s emotional or physical well-being. This may be due to neglect, abuse, or any other type of harm or risk.
The other reason grandparents may seek conservatorship is when the parents of the child or the child’s custodian agree that granting the grandparents conservatorship is in the best interests of the child. Standing for a grandparent to assume managing conservatorship is set forth in Texas Family Code §102.004.
If someone has a child custody case in process, grandparents may file for possessory conservatorship. This allows the grandparent to make important decisions regarding the child. It also provides the grandparent with visitation rights.
The law only allows grandparents to intervene if they have a history of substantial contact with their grandchild. There must also be evidence that the current living conditions may cause significant physical or emotional harm to the child.
Making Your Case
If you feel it may be necessary to file for custody of your grandchildren, you need to begin building your case immediately. Keep a calendar that shows when your grandchild is under your care. Even if this time is not continuous, it is important for showing that you are a frequent or primary caretaker for the child.
If you have had custody of your grandchild for a minimum of sixty (60) days under any type of voluntary child custody agreement and the parents retract the agreement, you must act quickly. There is a 90-day time frame following the child’s removal from your care in which you may file a custody lawsuit.
Seek written statements or testimony from professionals who interact with you as the child’s primary caregiver. This can be the child’s school personnel and teachers, doctors, counselors, and clergy. Include supervisors of extracurricular activities you interact with including dance class, scouting, sports, music lessons, or any other activity.
Keep photographic documentation of the child-grandparent relationship. This evidence shows that the child is in a custodial environment at your home. These should be photos of everyday activities with the child including mealtime, playtime, where the child sleeps, etc.
The goal is to capture candid moments that show the child happily engaged in activities. Include the background so it is clear the child is with you and/or at your home. This can be something as simple as grandpa pushing the child on a swing, the child asleep in their bed, or helping grandma make cookies.
Whether managing conservatorship or possessory conservatorship, the criteria a court considers are equal. One consideration is whether the grandparents are fit to provide care for their grandchild.
Depending on the child’s age, the court may consider whether the child wishes to live with their grandparents. Other factors include the grandparent’s ability to parent the child and the stability of the grandparent’s home. They will also review the relationship between the child’s parents and grandparents.
The court will also consider whether grandparents have been a significant part of the child’s life. In the event grandparents are awarded sole custodian, they may file for child support.
Keep the Law on Your Side
Grandparents’ rights in Texas are limited and you need an experienced child custody attorney on your side. Your attorney will know the law, court procedure, and what evidence is crucial to proving your case.
Voluntary agreements with the parents can backfire if the parents decide to take the children back. When you have a court order in your hands granting you conservatorship of your grandchildren, the law is on your side.
The goal in any child custody case is to make sure all arrangements are in the best interest of the child. The last thing children need is to be the pawn in a battle between their grandparents and parents.
Is It Time for a Grandparent Intervention in Texas?
You now know the reasons grandparents can file for custody. If you believe a change of custody is in the best interests of your grandchild, the law offices of Scott M. Brown & Associates can help. We have experience in all family law matters and can help you obtain a result that is in the best interests of your grandchild.
Our main office in Angleton assists clients throughout the Houston area. We also have offices in Pearland and League City. Please contact us by phone or use our online email form to schedule a consultation. We look forward to helping you.