You’re a Grandparent- What rights do you have in Texas?
In most families,
grandparents and grandchildren have close relationships that are encouraged by the
parents of the children. Grandparents are seen as persons to be respected
and emulated. Their life lessons are ones that draw families together
and allow for perspective and advice to be shared in a loving and caring
environment. Unfortunately, not all family situations are like this. Some
grandparents find themselves with all the willingness in the world to
love their grandchildren but the parents will not allow it to occur. Maybe
you find yourself in this type of sad and frustrating situation and you’d
like to know what your rights are as far as being able to spend time with
The attorneys with the
Law Office of Bryan Fagan represent
family law clients across southeast Texas and among those clients are grandparents
like yourself. If you have never attempted to navigate the courts system
in Texas or if you’ve never even thought about filing a lawsuit
before this blog post will highlight some pertinent laws in Texas when
it comes to
grandparent rights. With shifting family dynamics in our nation and in our state, grandparents’
impact on children have never been more important.
How to pursue custody of your grandchildren
If you have any familiarity with Texas family law then you know that judges
approach all issues associated with children by using the “best interest of the child” standard. Judges evaluate
child support, living arrangements,
access of children by deciding what would be in the best interest of the children.
In some situations it is an easy decision to make, in others the decision
is a more difficult one at which to arrive.
Forget all of that for a moment though. You’re a grandparent. You’ve
raised children yourself and have a good idea of what is in the best interest
of children- specifically your grandchildren. If you’ve observed
them being mistreated by their parents or otherwise are being put in situations
where their physical or mental well being is at issue you may have arrived
at a decision where you’ve determined that you need to attempt to
gain custody of your grandchildren. Going about this, however, is not
a simple process. I would imagine that many of you reading this blog post
are at the point where you’ve realized that you need to hire a lawyer
to help you achieve your goals. Let’s talk about the goal of winning
custody of your grandchildren.
The short answer is that it is possible to win custody of your grandchildren
in Texas. It is definitely not an easy process and the laws in our state
are designed to give overwhelming support to parents and assumes that
parents are making decisions that are in the best interest of their children
absent evidence to the contrary. The facts and circumstances of your case
need to be just right in order to have a better than fair chance to win
custody. If you are not able to provide sufficient facts and evidence to a judge
as to why you are a better candidate to provide continuous care for your
grandchildren than are your grandbaby’s parents then you will not
be able to succeed in your custody goal.
What do you need to prove to a judge in order to win custody of your grandchildren
First, you as a grandparent must be able to establish that allowing the
children to remain in the care of their parent(s) would significantly
impair their physical health or emotional development. You cannot go to
court on feeling or an assumption and expect to win custody as a grandparent.
You can definitely file a case, go to court and talk to the judge but
your odds of success are very, very low. There must be circumstances that
allow you to establish with the court that the present environment is
so detrimental to the growth and development of the children that an alternative
living arrangement must be sought. Examples that a court may find sufficient
to award you custody as a grandparent is if the parents are engaging indrug or alcohol abuse in front of the children. If one or both of the parents are leaving the
children unsupervised for long periods of time or are
physically abusing them these are other examples of fact patterns that may be sufficient
for you as a grandparent to win custody of your grandchildren.
If you win custody of your grandchildren- what should you do next?
If you proceed with a legal case and win custody of your grandchildren,
congratulations. You’ve overcome the odds and in doing so have helped
your grandchildren immensely. An important next step is to order certified
copies of the court order that has named you as the
primary conservator of the grandchildren. You will need this document to enroll the children
in the school zoned to your home, find them a doctor to see and enroll
them on your health insurance or in Medicaid.
If you have just read this last sentence and thought that you’re
already been trying to do all those things on your own with great difficulty
because you don’t have the rights and duties of a
conservator, then you should definitely pursue a formal arrangement with the court
that allows you to have the right to do these sorts of things for your
Questions on visitation of your grandchildren?
If you have questions regarding visitation of your grandchildren if you
are being denied the opportunity to do so by the children’s parents
then you will want to read through the blog post set to be posted tomorrow
by the attorneys with the
Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Somewhat surprisingly, the requirements to gain court ordered visitation
are different than custody and it is important to understand what you’re
up against in that area as well.
The attorneys with the
Law Office of Bryan Fagan are available six days a week to speak with you about your particular
family law situation and to answer any questions you may have. A consultation
with one of our licensed family law attorneys is free of charge and can
help you to set the course for achieving whatever desired outcomes you
have in mind.