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Grandparent Rights

  • Wade Christiansen
  • Sat, 04/14/2018 - 10:18pm

In our society, parents commonly encourage and foster a close relationship between their children and the children's grandparents.  Such grandparent relationships are generally a great benefit to children.  Due to a variety of circumstances, such as estranged family relationships or death, grandparents are not voluntarily offered access to their grandchildren.  Generally, parents have a constitutional right to determine with whom their children associate and spend time, and can exercise that constitutional right to deny access to the grandparents.  However, some important exceptions exist, and grandparents who are being denied access to their grandchildren should know what legal remedies might be available.  Today's blog post will summarize the various legal remedies a grandparent may have to obtain to obtain court orders for custody or access.  

Grandparent Access

A biological or adoptive grandparent may file a lawsuit to obtain a court order for access.  If the grandparent shows that the parent of the grandchild has been incarcerated during the 3 month period preceding the filing of the petition, has been declared legally incompetent, is deceased, or does not have actual or court ordered visitation, and the Judge is satisfied that denial of possession of or access to the granddhildren would significantly impair the grandchild's physical health or emotional well-being, the Judge may (but is not required) to orer reasonable periods of possession and access.  

Grandparent Custody

As an alternative to merely seeking court-ordered periods of possession and access, the grandparent may, under some circumstances, seek custody of the grandchildren.  In order to file and maintain the lawsuit, the grandparent must show that he or she has legal "standing".  There are a variety of circumstances that allow for a grandparent to have legal standing, the most common of which is a showing that he or she has had actual care, control and possession of the child for at least six months, ending not more than 90 days before the filing of the petition.  Another common circumstance that allows a grandparent legal standing is where there is satisfactory proof that the order is necessary because the child's present circumstances would significantly impair the child's physical health or emotional development.  

In family situations where parents do not voluntarily allow grandparent access, it is critical for grandparents to fully understand and assert their grandparent rights.  Christiansen Law Firm has had extensive experience handling grandparent access suits and grandparent custody suits.  Contact the family law attorneys of Christiansen Law Firm in Houston or San Antonio for additional information.


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