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What You Should Know About Visitation Rights for a Grandparent

Nov. 24, 2018

Visitation Rights for Grandparents in Texas

If you have a grandchild that you would like to visit on a more regular basis, you should be aware of the various visitation right laws in Texas. In more than 50 percent of child visitation cases, the visitation rules and guidelines are not decided by the court, which means that family members can oftentimes make the final decision on visitation. Understanding what your visitation rights are as a grandparent will allow you to be prepared for any situation where visitation rights are in question.

Grandparent Visitation Laws in Texas

Parents invariably have more rights to their children than grandparents, which is true even if the grandparent has a very close bond with the child. If you wish to petition for visitation rights to visit your grandchild, there are a range of visitation laws in Texas that can determine whether or not your petition is granted.

There is no federal law that determines what the visitation rights should be for a child’s grandparents, which means that these rights are decided on a state-by-state basis. Past cases, such as the Troxel case, have shown that a grandparent visitation is largely appropriate as long as it serves the best interests of the child. A parent must have a relatively strong reason as to why the grandparent’s visitation should be denied for it to be stripped legally.

When a grandparent wants to gain visitation rights for their grandchild, they can petition the court to do so. Visitation rights for the grandparent are only allowed when:

  • One adoptive or biological parent currently has parental rights of the child

  • A denial of the visitation rights by the grandparent would create issues with the emotional and physical well-being of the child

  • The grandparent seeking visitation is a parent of the child’s custodial parent, and the parent is unable to take care of the child

Situations where a parent is unable to take care of their child can include the extended incarceration of a parent, the death of a parent, or the proven mental incompetence of a parent.

Can a Grandparent Gain Custody of a Child?

Along with general visitation rights, it’s possible for the grandparent to obtain custody of the child in certain situations. However, a court cannot grant custody to the grandparent unless the parent is wholly unable to provide for the emotional and physical needs of the child. It’s also possible to gain custody in the event that at least one parent agrees to the changes in custody. The only way for a grandparent to seek custody of the child is to file the request for custody in an ongoing custody case. While the rights of the child’s parents are always considered first before the visitation or custody rights of the grandparent, it’s possible for the parents of the child to lose their rights in specific situations.

Does Adoption Affect Visitation Rights?

If your grandchild is being put up for adoption by their parents, you may wonder how this will affect your visitation rights. Adoption fully terminates the rights of the parent to their child. Your rights as a grandparent are only granted via the rights of the parent, which means that you will likely lose all of your visitation rights with the child. There is, however, one exception to this rule that you may need to be aware of, which is in the case of an adoption by a stepparent. While the grandparent must still prove that their visitation is in the best interests of the child, and that it doesn’t directly interfere with the relationship between the child and stepparent, it’s possible to gain back visitation rights. If you have questions about your visitation rights as a grandparent, speak with our family law attorney. We can provide you with the education you need to make informed decisions about your family’s custody battle.

If you have questions about your visitation rights as a grandparent or wish to know more about your legal options, call one of our Baytown family law attorneys today.