Grandparents enjoy a special relationship with their grandchildren — and it is usually beneficial for everyone involved.
What happens, however, if the relationship with your grandchild’s parents sours for some reason? Do you have any legal rights to visitation with your grandchildren over their parents’ objections?
Unlike many other states, Texas does allow grandparents some legal recourse that will keep the doors to visitation open — but only under certain circumstances.
If you’re seeking a visitation order as a grandparent, at least one of these conditions must be met:
- The parents are divorced
- One parent (usually the grandparent’s own child) is deceased, incompetent or incarcerated
- The parent or parents neglected or abused the child
- One or both parents have lost their parental rights
- The child has already lived with you for six months or longer
In addition, you must also show that it is in the child’s best interests for the court to allow visitation.
It’s the last condition that often causes the most difficulty, especially if the court has to overcome a parent’s objections to the visitation order. This is because the Supreme Court officially declared that grandparents don’t enjoy a natural right to visit their grandchildren. Parents always have the most entitlements where children are concerned.
Many grandparents end up coming into a family law office to talk about visitation rights after a family tragedy of some sort has disrupted their relationship with their grandchildren. For example, a son might end up incarcerated. His wife — wanting to put her past behind her as much as possible — ends up suing for divorce and ends contact with the son’s family. The son’s parents suddenly find themselves cut off from their grandchild. This is when it becomes very important to try to demonstrate that you enjoyed a strong relationship with your grandchildren prior to that event — and that your grandchildren benefited from it in some way, either emotionally or economically.
Whatever your situation, it’s usually helpful to get an attorney’s opinion as early as possible. That way, you know exactly what obstacles you face.