The most direct and simplest way for you to be able to have visitation with your grandchild is the old-fashioned way- to go through your child or your child's co-parent to get the contact with your grandchild that you desire. Grandparents have played a tremendous role in the development of children for generations. The extended family unit holds a place of distinction in many cultures- including here in Texas. We see grandparents assisting with the care of their grandchildren, proving primary care, and stepping in when needed to provide care during emergencies. For many families, grandparents like yourself are invaluable.
You probably have a strong bond with your grandchildren or at least are wanting to have a strong bond if circumstances have prevented you from being able to have as much time with your grandchildren as you would like. Every family is different and unique. The idea that you would be facing the same set of circumstances as any other grandparent is unrealistic. As a result, you need to be able to focus on what is going on in your life to be better equipped to win the visitation with your grandchildren that you desire.
Most of the time you should address any challenges that you have directly with the grandchild's parents. Likely this is your child as well as their spouse/significant other. You know if it is appropriate to reach out to your child's co-parent to see if he or she can allow you access to your grandchild. It may not be appropriate for whatever reason and your child may feel like you are going behind their back to do something that you should not. Family dynamics, as we have said, are unique and it is up to you to gauge the appropriateness of these types of actions.
Avoiding a family law case, if possible, is the way to go about what you want. You want a relationship with your grandchild. You don’t want a family law case. You don’t want a fight. You don’t want to ask a judge for time with your grandchild and you don’t want to have to hire a lawyer to help you get there. Of course, I’m sure you would go through all the effort I just listed to get the relationship with your grandchild, but you should not seek it out as a first option. Rather, you should work as hard as you can to build or rebuild a relationship with your grandchild’s parents to go about meeting your goals.
I don’t know the first thing about your relationship with your grandchild or his parents. If it were a strong, great relationship then you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog post. Rather, if your relationship with your grandchild’s parents is weak or has been damaged by something you should investigate this first before trying to go about winning visitation with your grandchildren through a Texas family court. While it is possible to do so, and the Law Office of Bryan Fagan can talk to you about how to do it, this is not a simple case and will take time and effort.
Another consideration that you need to make in this instance is what will the impact of filing a family law case be on your relationship with your family. It may be necessary for you to go about achieving your goals in this way. Many grandparents like yourself around our state are reasonable, caring, and loving people who simply want to be able to spend a modest amount of time with their grandchild. If this is being withheld from you then you may need to reach out to one of our attorneys to talk about your options. Otherwise, if you have not pursued obtaining visitation directly through your child and their co-parent then you should do so. A family law case should be seen as an absolute, last-resort type of maneuver.
What if your grandchild’s parents share custody? This will make the process easier. If your child and their co-parent share custody of your grandchild, then you only need to get the permission of one of them to allow you to build a relationship through visitation with your grandchild. It may be that your child wanted you to be able to spend time with your grandchild, but their ex-wife was against it for whatever reason. Now that they are divorced you can spend time with your grandchild during your son’s periods of possession without concern over his ex-wife having any say in the matter.
In a perfect world, you can have unlimited access and time with your grandchild. That may have been the case with your family for a period. If you are looking at a situation where your grandchild is not able to spend as much time with you as you would like, then you need to consider all your options and then make a decision about what method is best to employ given your particular family dynamics. It is not a good idea to immediately jump into a family law case where you are trying to win visitation rights with your grandchild. You can do this, but it is rarely the best option. It becomes the best option when it is the only option.
What to do if you are worried about your grandchild’s safety?
In some circumstances, you may be worried about the well-being of your grandchild as far as how he or she is being cared for at home. This goes beyond a typical situation where a grandparent may disapprove of the grandchild's bedtime or the frequency with which he or she eats candy. No, this would be a situation where you are honestly concerned about your grandchild's health from not being fed dinner consistently. Or you may be upset with your child because their drinking has reached a point of being "out of control." This may have been the issue that led to the lack of access to your grandchild in the first place.
Again, speaking to your child and/or their parent about the concerns that you have should be your first mode of operation here. You will probably notice a trend with the advice that I am giving you- I think it is best and most advantageous for you and your grandchild if you can address these issues directly with the parents first. If you are worried about their reaction and whether they will ignore or get angry with you imagine how they will react when and if you file a family law case seeking formal visitation. Either way, they may not be happy. However, if you can go to them directly their reaction may be different, and you can build a level of trust if that has been the problem before.
When was the last time you spoke to your child about the issues that you see in their home? How have you been approaching him or her? Think about your tone of voice, the words that you choose as well as the location of the conversation. All of these are important factors for you to consider. Do not underestimate things like rolling eyes, body language, posture, and the words that you use. If your child or their co-parent has been skeptical of your intentions, then you need to be very cognizant of how you are approaching this subject. Do not take anything for granted. Be intentional about how you bring up the topics with your child and how you speak to him or her. Sometimes it is helpful to remember that your child is an adult, and you cannot and should not necessarily speak to him or her as you did years ago. Of course, you know the circumstances better than I do but these are general tips that I have seen work well in my professional and personal lives.
Do you think that your grandchild is at immediate risk of harm?
If you think that your grandchild is in a situation where you believe that he is going to be harmed by a parent, co-parent, or by something else you should contact law enforcement or 9-1-1. This should not be done frivolously or without proper contemplation. Calling emergency personnel to the home of your child for no good reason is likely to further anger your child and that will result in additional limitations on your visitation with your grandchild. You must weigh the likelihood that harm could occur in the home. As a parent yourself you know the feeling of when something bad is going to occur. If you think that the likelihood of a bad outcome is high, then you should contact law enforcement.
Abuse or neglect of children does occur by caregivers. In that case, you can contact Child Protective Services (CPS) to file a report about the abuse or neglect of your grandchild that has occurred. CPS reports are confidential, and you will not be listed as the person who made a report. However, this isn't to say that your child will not be able to figure out who made the report. Depending upon your family structure and your prior involvement with CPS it could be obvious to your child and their co-parent who made the report of abuse or neglect. You should be sure about what you are reporting, Law enforcement can act quicker than CPS if you think your grandchild is in immediate danger. Do not underestimate the ability of CPS to initiate a long investigation if the need is there.
If CPS does remove your grandchild from the home, then you can try and present yourself as a potential placement home temporarily. This means that you could become a temporary conservator of your grandchild if you have a prior relationship, CPS makes this request, and the judge believes that doing so is in the best interests of your grandchild. You would need to have a background check performed on you and any past instances of CPS investigating you or your family would be relevant to their placing your grandchild in your home with you.
Filing for an emergency protective order with the family court is another option for you to undertake as a concerned grandparent. This motion would bring to the court's attention your grandchild's situation and your willingness to take on responsibility for your grandchild temporarily. You can become what is known as the managing conservator of your grandchild. This is the person who has the responsibility to provide for the daily needs of your grandchild as far as getting them to school, and providing him with a place to live and food to eat. The basics of life. You may also be able to receive child support from your child or their co-parent to assist you with caring for your grandchild if he is placed in your home. A modification of any custody orders once your grandchild has been living with you for an extended period would be what many grandparents would do after you have shown the court that you are capable of caring for your grandchild’s needs once he is in your home.
The bottom line is that Texas courts presume that parents act in the best interests of their children regarding decisions that are made on behalf of the child. Your grandchild not being able to spend time with you is an example of this. It is up to you if you wish to win conservatorship or visitation with your grandchild, to be able to overcome this presumption that is in favor of parents. The state of Texas does not want any relative with an axe to grind to be able to file a frivolous case against a parent in family court. Rather, these types of cases are best filed when there are no other options available to you.
If you are only interested in becoming the managing conservator of your grandchild, then these family law cases tend to become difficult to win. Your grandchild’s physical health or emotional development must be harmed by remaining in the home with your child and their co-parent. This is a high bar to clear. It is not enough to state that you think your child is better off with you or would have a better life. That may be true for a lot of people in comparison to your grandchild’s current situation. There needs to be a discernable risk to your grandchild that requires you to call CPS.
You can position yourself better to be named as the managing conservator of your grandchild if you find yourself in a position where your child has given up possession of your grandchild either to you or to CPS. your child may have willingly given up possession of your grandchild to you for a short period. this can assist you in winning managing the conservatorship of your grandchild, but you should be aware of how a case can evolve.
What you need to understand is that it is normal to feel like your time with your grandchild has become limited if he or she begins to live with one of their parents independent of your child. After a divorce or child custody case, you may see less and less of your grandchild and that may be causing you a great deal of stress. However, this does not mean that you are well positioned to be able to file for Visitation or custody rights of your grandchild. To learn more about your chances at success in a case like this you should speak with an experienced family law attorney.
While the law in Texas favors the rights of parents regarding their children it does not favor grandparents and especially does not favor extended family members. You need to be realistic with yourself about how much time you can spend with your grandchild before you even approach their parents about any other subjects that we have discussed in today's blog post. Your best bet may be to try and repair any broken relationships with your child and their parent before you ever try to ask for more time with your grandchild. This is not an easy approach to take but it may be the best one considering your circumstances.
Approach the conversations with humility and be aware that listening is just as important in communication as talking. The more patient you can be, the humbler your approach and the less argumentative you are typical can lead to good results for you and your family. Many times, this approach can lead to better results than a family law case.
Questions about the material contained in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
if you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free-of-charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family's circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.