Although grandparents are family members, their rights are not the same as a child’s parents. If your grandchild’s mother and father divorced or live in an unsafe situation, you may consider petitioning for visitation privileges or custody in Texas. We often represent clients who seek legal options for remaining close to their grandchildren.
According to the Texas Attorney General, grandparents can petition for custody and request visitation rights in various circumstances.
The best interest of the child
The stereotypical nuclear family has evolved since the end of World War II. Parents are not always married, and the extended family, including grandparents, may or may not have an emotional tie with their children’s children.
The court gives deference to the parents. However, if you petition for visitation or custody of your grandchildren, the court looks whether this is in the best interest of the child if one or more of the following circumstances exist:
- The parents divorced
- The single parent neglects or abuses the child
- The court declares the parent incompetent
- The parent is in jail or has passed away
- The court legally terminated the parent-child relationship
- Your grandchild lived with you for at least six months
Determining factors for the court
Before rendering a decision, the court looks at whether you have a bond with your grandchild. If you babysit, have sleepovers and otherwise spend time with them, you have a relationship that includes love and trust. The judge also looks at the age of the child, physical well-being and your ability to care for the child in the future.
If you gain custody of your grandchild, you can apply for child support. The parents have a legal obligation to provide medical and financial assistance. Every family is unique, which makes these custody cases complex. It is imperative that you understand how the law applies to your circumstances before filing for custody.