Discussion of divorces and custody often centers on parents. But families include other people, including grandparents who have taken an active interest in a child’s welfare. If you are considering a divorce, or are a grandparent with a child who is considering a divorce, you may be asking yourself, what sorts of rights do grandparents have under Texas divorce laws?
Grandparents who have a strong bond with a child can always petition the court for visitation rights, or even custody (more properly called conservatorship). However, the burden of proof is on the grandparents to prove that it is in the child’s best interest. This is a very strict standard, and can be difficult to overcome. A judge will assess a child’s best interests in each case, and grandparents won’t be awarded visitation rights if it might have a negative effect on family relationships.
In order for a judge to award visitation privileges to a grandparent, the grandparent must prove that visitation is in the child’s best interests. Texas’ grandparent statute tends to allow for visitation in the following instances:
- At least one biological or adoptive parent still has parental rights over the child
- The grandparent seeking visitation shows that denying it would harm the child’s physical and/or emotional well-being
- The grandparent seeking visitation is the parent of the child’s parent, and the child’s parent isn’t available: i.e, they’ve been incarcerated for at least three (3) months, have been declared mentally incompetent by a court, have died, or do not have actual or court-ordered visitation with the child
Conservatorship can sometimes be granted to a grandparent if the parent has abused or neglected the child, the court has terminated the parent-child relationship, or the child has lived with the grandparent for at least six months. Remember—the court’s preference is always to keep parents and children together where possible, and if you’re a grandparent, conservatorship is very difficult to win.
Dealing with questions of custody and visitation can be stressful. If you are a grandparent who is worried about not being able to see your grandchild following a divorce, you are not alone. It is common for grandparents to have questions and concerns about child custody, visitation, and their rights as they relate to their grandchildren. By seeking the counsel of an experienced family law attorney, you can better understand your options as a grandparent.
This blog does not constitute legal advice. If you have questions about divorce law, child custody, visitation, or what rights grandparents have in a divorce, contact the experts at Sandoval Family Law today.
At Sandoval Law Firm we understand the stress of dealing with divorce, child custody and domestic violence. Our firm consists of founding attorney Raul Sandoval Jr. and a dedicated support staff. Mr. Sandoval earned his law degree from Texas Tech University School of Law. Since that time, he has been practicing family law in the Austin area, as well as teaching seminars, classes and other forms of professional development.