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How and when can grandparents seek visitation rights in Texas?

On Behalf of | May 10, 2024 | Child Custody And Co-Parenting |

Grandparents often play a vital role in their grandchildren’s lives. However, when family dynamics change due to events like divorce or the death of a parent, maintaining that connection is not necessarily easy.

Texas law provides certain conditions under which grandparents can seek visitation rights.

Understanding the legal framework

The Texas Family Code stipulates that grandparents may request visitation rights, also known as grandparent access, if they believe it is in the best interest of the child. However, the court must balance these rights with the parents’ right to raise their children as they see fit.

Criteria for seeking visitation rights

Grandparents can file for visitation rights under specific circumstances:

  • Parental status: For parental status, at least one parent must still hold their parental rights. This applies when parents are divorced, one parent has passed away, or a parent has abused or neglected the child.
  • Harm to the child: The grandparents must prove that the child would suffer harm if the court denied the grandparent’s visit. This requirement is stringent and requires clear evidence of potential harm.
  • Pre-existing relationship: The grandparents must have had a substantial and positive prior relationship with the grandchild.

A strong, ongoing relationship can help demonstrate that continued contact is in the best interest of the child.

Filing a petition

To initiate the process, grandparents must file a petition in the court that has jurisdiction over the child’s residence. This petition should outline their relationship with the grandchild, the current situation of the child’s household and why they believe their absence would harm the child’s well-being.

Court considerations

When deciding on a grandparent’s request for visitation, the court considers various factors, including the historical relationship between the grandchild and the grandparent, the child’s emotional and physical needs and the stability of the grandparent’s home environment. They may also consider the child’s preference, depending on their age and maturity.

While the process can be challenging, grandparents should understand that the courts primarily focus on the child’s best interests. Grandparents who believe their presence is important to their grandchild’s well-being should understand their options and work to prepare a strong case.