What, if any, Rights Do Grandparents Have in Texas?

Often, the only difficulty grandparents have with visits with their grandchildren is not having enough time, but not because of conflict–instead, the child has school, friends, activities, etc. There’s no disagreement between the parents and grandparents, just that the grandparents enjoy time with their grandchildren so much they wish there was more of it.

But there are other times when grandparents are deliberately separated from their grandchildren in a hurtful way. There isn’t always a legal solution for this, but depending on the circumstances, it may be possible to take action if any of the following is happening.

  • The grandchild is in danger. This could be because one or both parents are putting them in danger or not capable of removing them from danger. Situations like this are less about visitation and more about the possibility of the grandparents asking for custody to protect the child.
  • The grandchild is in danger, and the parents aren’t capable of making rational decisions or taking action to help them. Unlike the scenario above, this is more likely to lead to the grandparents asking the courts to terminate the parental rights and have the grandparents be named guardians.
  • The grandchild isn’t in danger, but the parents refuse to allow interactions between the child and the grandparents because the adults are in conflict about something. Family law wants to act in the child’s best interests, and if the grandparents demonstrate that the child is harmed because of being cut off from grandparents, legal action may help.

When Can Grandparents in Texas Take Legal Action to Gain Access to Their Grandchildren?

This is a complex question. In Texas, grandparents don’t have absolute legal rights to visitation with their grandchildren, even if the parents have blocked them. Too often, grandparents try to file lawsuits that the court dismisses outright because their case doesn’t fall within established guidelines.

That said, some exceptions exist in which grandparents can pursue legal action to gain access even if the parents object. It’s crucial to understand that in Texas, grandparents can only seek legal remedies for visitation if both parents have blocked their access to the grandchild. If one parent allows the grandparent to visit but the other doesn’t, the court is less likely to allow the suit to go forward.

  • The parents are divorced, and the grandparent’s child doesn’t have primary custody of the child.
  • The child’s parent is dead or deemed mentally incompetent.
  • The child’s parents are guilty of abusing or neglecting the child.
  • The child has lived with the grandparents for a minimum of six months.

If any of these apply, the grandparents may pursue legal action to gain visitation if they meet all of the following.

  • At least one of the biological or adoptive parents of the child still retains their legal parental rights.
  • The grandparent seeking visitation must be the parent of one of the grandchild’s parents.
  • The grandparent can prove that it’s in the child’s best interests for them to have access to their grandparents.

What Factors Do the Courts Consider When Ruling on Grandparent Visitation?

There are several.

  • How long it’s been since the grandparents and grandchild last had contact of any kind.
  • Why the parent(s) is refusing visitation.
  • What kind of relationship the grandparents and grandchild have.
  • The stability of the grandparents’ home.
  • Whether or not there’s a history of abuse, neglect, or substance abuse, by either grandparent.
  • If the grandparents can manage the child’s needs when they visit.
  • If it appears that the visitation is in the child’s best interests in terms of their physical and emotional health. This means that the grandparents must prove that because the child doesn’t have access to the grandparents, it causes the child physical or emotional harm.

Are There Situations in Which Grandparents Are Not Allowed to Have Visitation?

Unfortunately, yes. If someone else adopts the grandchildren because both biological parents have died, had their parental rights terminated, or relinquished their parental rights, the adoptive parents have the right to refuse access to the biological grandparents. In these cases, the grandparents are urged to contact an experienced family law attorney to see what avenues might exist for pursuing visitation.

What Is a Kinship Adoption?

As noted above, if the parents are dead or have either relinquished their parental rights or had them terminated, and the child is adopted by someone else, grandparents may not be able to have visitation.

There is an exception to that, known as kinship adoption. Essentially, it means that while there may be changes in who the child’s parents are, grandparents may still be involved. It’s most likely to be used in situations such as when the grandparents’ child dies or is incarcerated, and the remaining parent remarries with the new stepparent adopting the child. Another example is if the court appoints a guardian to the grandchild (especially in cases of parental death or loss of parental rights), and the grandparents may still be involved.

What Should I Do if I Want to Pursue Getting Visitation With My Grandchildren?

Call the Cutrer Law Group at 817-813-8513 for a free case evaluation. Our team of experienced, knowledgeable family law attorneys understands how important it is to be part of your grandchildren’s lives and how frustrating it is when that’s been made difficult or impossible. We can go through the specifics of your case to determine what rights you might have and the best approach to achieve them.