Grandparents can play a vital role in the upbringing of their grandchildren, offering them love, encouragement and guidance as they grow. Unfortunately, life events or strained relationships with the parents may make it difficult for grandparents to begin or maintain a relationship with their grandchildren. Although Texas does not grant grandparents automatic visitation rights, grandparents can petition the family court in order to establish visitation rights. In today's blog post, we'll look at the available legal options grandparents have to begin or maintain visitation with their grandchildren, and the conditions under which grandparent visitation may be granted.
The Best Interest Of The Child
Grandparents interested in establishing or maintaining access to their grandchildren must meet certain conditions in order to be granted visitation rights by the family court. The primary concern of the family court is that grandparent visitation is ultimately in the best interest of the child. Grandparents have the burden of proof in demonstrating that the denial of grandparent access significantly impairs the emotional well-being or physical safety of their grandchild.
Meeting Specific Criteria
In addition to evaluating the best interest of the grandchild, one of the following circumstances must exist in order for a family court to consider granting visitation rights to grandparents. If the parents are divorced, if the child has been a victim of abuse or neglect by a parent, if a parent has died, or if the parent is incarcerated or found incompetent to maintain custody, then the family court may consider granting visitation rights to grandparents. Grandparents that have also had their grandchildren live with them for at least six months, ending within the previous 3 months, may also be granted visitation rights.
When Can Grandparents Not Request Visitation Rights?
There are some circumstances in which grandparents are not allowed to petition for visitation rights. If both biological parents have given their child up for adoption, had their parental rights terminated, or have died, then grandparents are not allowed to petition for visitation rights if their grandchildren have been formally adopted or are in the process of being adopted by someone other than a stepparent.
The legal process of petitioning for visitation rights can be a lengthy, uphill battle for grandparents. However, with experienced and skilled legal representation, grandparents have a much better chance of successfully petitioning for visitation rights to ensure they can maintain a relationship with their grandchildren. Christiansen Law Firm is a Texas-based family law firm specializing in protecting client's rights and navigating the complex legal waters of Texas family court. Christiansen Law Firm assists clients with adoption, custody, visitation, child support, divorce and protective order needs. Contact the Christiansen Law Firm offices in Houston or San Antonio for more information or to schedule an appointment.