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Texas grandparent rights in child custody cases

Texas grandparents may wish to seek court-ordered visitation with their grandchildren in certain situations. Applicable state law does allow such motions to be filed, but one of several situations must first be present.

As in other family law matters involving children, the child's best interests controls. The court will thus need to make a finding from evidence presented that ordering grandparent visitation is in the child's best interests. Additionally, the parents of the child must be divorced, the parents must have abused or neglected the child, the child's parent must have been incarcerated, found incompetent or is deceased, or the child-parent relationship must have been previously terminated by a court. An order is also possible if the child has lived with the grandparent for six months or more.

The grandparent who wishes to seek and receive visitation will need to file a petition requesting those grandparents' rights with the court and will then need to serve copies of the petition on the child's parent if the parent's relationship has not been terminated. In the event the parent objects, the court will hold a contested hearing. In cases in which the child has been adopted by someone other than a stepparent, the grandparents are not permitted to seek visitation with the child.

Children often develop very close and loving relationships with their grandparents. It can be very difficult for grandparents who have had such a quality relationship to then have the child be prevented from seeing them. In the event that has occurred and one of the permitted circumstances exists, the grandparent may want to seek the help of a family law attorney who has experience in these types of matters.

Source: Texas Attorney General, "Grandparents' Page", accessed on Jan. 19, 2015

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