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The custody and visitation rights of grandparents

There are many situations that can lead Texas grandparents to seek custody or visitation rights with their grandchild. In some cases, the child may live with the grandparent and the grandparent wants a custody order so he or she can assert rights to such things as child support and other benefits. In other cases, a child's biological custodial parent may be preventing the child from having contact with the child's grandparents and the grandparents want court-ordered visitation so they can continue their relationship.

Whatever the circumstances may be, when grandparents believe that they need a custody or visitation order regarding a grandchild, Texas law allows the grandparents to file a petition in court in order to request it. Under the law, such petitions are allowed if the request is in the child's best interests and one of several conditions apply.

To meet the conditions requirement, the child's parents must be divorced, the child has been abused or neglected by the parents, the parent has passed away, been incarcerated or found to be incompetent, the parent's relationship has been terminated by court order or the child has lived with the grandparents for at least six months. Visitation rights for grandparents are not automatic, however. Grandparents will need to present evidence to the court that the required conditions are satisfied and that granting such a request is in the child's best interests despite any parental objections. Visitation may not be requested if the child has been adopted by another person.

Child custody decisions can be extremely difficult for all parties involved. When grandparents have had a close relationship with their grandchild, it can be especially hard if they are later prevented from continuing that contact. Grandparents may wish to consult with a family law attorney regarding the likelihood of their being granted visitation or custody rights.

Source: Attorney General of Texas, "Grandparents' Page", December 16, 2014

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