Under the law, the rights of grandparents and parents are not equal. While a grandparent can petition the court for visitation rights, there’s no guarantee that the request will be granted. The children’s best interests are always the court’s primary concern, and if grandparent visitation will affect the children or the parent-child relationship negatively, it won’t be granted. If, on the other hand, it is deemed appropriate, the court will grant the visitation.
Grandparent Visitation Law
There is no federal law related to grandparent visitation; instead, the closest we have is the Troxel v. Granville decision. This case highlights the determination that, while a grandparent’s rights are indeed important, a parent’s rights are more important. As such, grandparent’s rights are appropriate only when they serve the child’s best interests and do not disrupt the parent-child relationship. The upshot of the Troxel decision is that the court is required to presume that a parent who’s attempting to prevent grandparent visitation has a good reason for doing so – rather than presuming that such visitation is always in the children’s best interests. While every state has its own grandparent visitation laws, they are all based on the guidelines set forth in Troxel.
Texas Law: Grandparent Visitation
The rights of grandparents in Texas are well established, and a grandparent can petition to obtain a visitation order with a grandchild or can petition to modify an order that’s already in existence. Again, the grandparent must be able to demonstrate to the court that such visitation is in the child’s best interests. The Texas statute allows for grandparent visitation under certain specific circumstances:
- At least one of the child’s biological or adoptive parents retains parental rights over the child
- The grandparent who seeks visitation can demonstrate that denying visitation would be physically or emotionally harmful to the child
- The grandparent who is seeking visitation is the parent of the grandchild’s parent, and that parent has either been incarcerated for at least 3 months, has been found mentally incompetent by the court, has died, or hasn’t – of late – had court-ordered or actual visitation with the child
The burden is on the grandparent, and the process is often complicated. If you are a grandparent who is seeking visitation with your grandchildren, consult with a Houston family law attorney today.
Grandparents and Custody
A parent’s right to raise his or her children is fundamental to family law in the United States. Unless a parent is unable or unwilling to provide for a child’s basic physical and emotional needs, the court typically won’t interfere with the relationship between parent and child. There are, however, certain instances when a grandparent can pursue custody of a grandchild:
- The grandchild is living in a home environment that jeopardizes his or her physical and/or emotional welfare.
- One or both of the grandchild’s parents consent to transfer the grandchild’s custody.
It’s important to note that grandparents can’t bring original custody cases against their grandchildren’s parents but can only intervene in custody actions that have already been filed – either by the children’s parents or by the state. While – as previously discussed – grandparents’ rights to custody are always secondary to the parents’ rights, the court will take the child’s best interests into consideration in determining custody. A parent’s rights are nearly inviolate, but parents whose actions consistently endanger their children can face termination of said rights.
Visitation Rights of Biological Grandparents of a Child Who’s Adopted
A grandparent’s right to visitation comes through the parents. Thus, if the parent’s rights to a child are terminated permanently via adoption, the grandparent’s rights are also permanently terminated. The one exception to this rule is in the case of stepparent adoption, and in such instances, the original need to prove that grandparent visitation is in the child’s best interests stands.
A Grandparent’s Role in a Child’s Life
The critical role that grandparents play in children’s lives is universally recognized. Grandparents typically provide love, warmth, security, and care to their grandchildren. Additionally, grandparents are often there to pitch in when parents need help and when kids can use some extra attention. Few people argue with the outsize role that grandparents can fill in their grandchildren’s lives. When parents divorce or when one parent dies, grandparents sometimes find themselves cut out of their grandchildren’s lives, which is not only very difficult for the grandparents themselves but can also be especially painful for the grandchildren.
Your Rights as a Grandparent
As a loving grandparent of your grandchildren, you naturally want to spend as much quality time with them as you possibly can. If the divorce of your grandchildren’s parents has curtailed your visitation time with your grandchildren, you are naturally experiencing something that is very difficult. While there are legal remedies that may help, the best path forward is often to find common ground with the children’s parent or parents and to attempt to find your way back into their lives naturally. Divorce is tough on everyone, and the passage of time has a way of healing all wounds. If instead, you are concerned about your grandkid’s health, safety, or emotional well-being, it’s time to speak to an experienced Houston family law attorney. Your grandchildren are far too important not to fight for your right to remain close to them via court-ordered visitation.
If You Are Concerned about Your Visitation Rights as a Grandparent, Consult with an Experienced Houston Family Law Attorney Today
Things change with divorce, and sometimes this change extends to a grandparent’s right to spend time with his or her grandchildren. This is often extremely painful for both the grandchildren and the grandparents. While a parent’s rights are paramount, grandparents also have rights to visitation with their grandchildren – and these rights are worth fighting for. The dedicated family law attorneys at the Rudisel Law Firm, P.C., in Houston, have the experience, skill, and compassion to help you obtain the visitation rights that you’re entitled to. We’re here to help, so please contact or call us at 713-781-7775 today.