While the traditional grandparent role may hold true for some, for many other families, grandparents are immediate and direct caregivers, supervisors and role models with visitation and custody rights.
Texas courts have the authority to allow grandparent visitation of a grandchild under certain conditions when the court determines those conditions are present and grandparent visitation would be in the best interests of the grandchild. Have you ever seen the saying, “If mom says no, ask grandma?” In many cultures our grandparents are revered as the sweet and compassionate elders in the family who shower grandchildren with love and affection. In many cases grandma and grandpa do not seriously discipline grandchildren when that’s mom or dad’s job. While this traditional grandparent role may hold true for some, for many other families, grandparents are immediate and direct caregivers, supervisors and role models.
Why are grandparents valuable to grandchildren?
In many cases grandparents are mentally, emotionally and financially stable, making them great caregivers and protectors of their grandchildren on a temporary or more permanent basis. When parents divorce, for a variety of reasons, it may be likely that nearby grandparents help shoulder some of the burdens of life including work and childcare. In situations where neither parent can care for the children on an ongoing basis, a grandparent can ask the court to award them custody of the children.
Texas courts may authorize grandparent visitation if it is in the best interests of the child and one of the following conditions is present:
1. The parents are divorced;
2. The child has been abused or neglected by the parent;
3. The parent is deceased, incarcerated or adjudicated incompetent;
4. The child already lived with the grandparent for six months or longer; or
5. The court has terminated a parent-child relationship by court order.
Note that while Texas law favors grandparents who play a vital role in the lives of their grandchildren, a grandparent does not have the right to court-ordered visitation if the parents are otherwise married and none of these conditions are present. If your children have a problem with you and will not let you see your grandchildren, there is nothing a court may do to intervene because parents have a fundamental right to the care and custody of their children absent one of these conditions opening the door to grandparent visitation.
Seeking full custody of grandchildren living with their grandparents
If the grandchildren have been living with their grandparents for at least six months or more and the grandparents can establish their ability to support the financial, medical and other basic needs of the grandchildren. Usually, it is the duty of parents to provide care for children. When the conditions mentioned above are present, and a grandparent has what is called standing, they can seek custody and be awarded the sole managing conservator of the grandchild, just like one parent may do in a divorce involving a custody dispute.
For more information and to determine what to do if you are a grandparent with concerns about the best interests of your grandchild, please do not hesitate to seek additional information from Scroggins Law Group.
*Mark L. Scroggins is *board-certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Unless otherwise noted, other attorneys are not *board-certified.
**Super Lawyers (a Thomson Reuters service, awarded to Mark Scroggins 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021)
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