Grandparent’s Rights in Texas
Normally grandparents play a unique role in many families that helps in keeping the family together. This includes acting as a nanny for their grandkids when their parents are away at work or other engagements. But sometimes they have to step in and raise their grandkids when the parent’s are dead, incarcerated or are declared unfit as parents.
How Can Grandparents Get Custody of Grandchildren in Texas
Texas law expects grandparents to file a lawsuit to petition the court for custody. There are a number of requirements that must be met before they file such a lawsuit. The requirements include:
- The grandparent is already a guardian per an order by the court
- The children have been living with the grandparent for six months
- The child’s parents want the child to live with the grandparents
- The grandparents have to prove that the child is undergoing neglect, abuse or suffering at the hand of the parents
- A parent is mentally ill
Grandparents cannot rely on visitation statutes because they do not give absolute visitation rights. If someone other than the child’s step-parent adopts the child, grandparents may not request visitation.
The grandparent may need to file “to-intervene” if another individual has already filed a lawsuit seeking custody of a child. But you will still have to prove to the court that the child is being neglected or abused by the individual that wants custody. The grandparent and the child must have had contact in the past for the case to succeed.
Custody after the death of the Custodial Parent
The court will always place the child in the hands of the other parent if the custodial parent dies. This may happen even if the other parent has not been actively involved in the child’s life. Close blood relatives of the child may be the second choice of the court.
The grandparents’ financial situation, age, and health will also determine whether the court gives them custody or not. If the grandparents are fit and financially able, they can easily qualify as the child’s caretakers.
What the Court Considers
The best interests of the child, is a top priority for the court and will play a significant role in what the court decides. Normally, courts believe that the child living with the parent is in the best interest of the child and that parents are not always perfect. So the abuse or neglect you as a grandparent believe is happening should be explicit not just based on assumptions.
They need to present a compelling case that clearly shows that the child would be better of living with them.
Some of the criteria the court uses to decide if grandparent custody is in the best interest of the child include:
- Permanency and stability of the proposed home
- Grandparents willingness to allow contact between the child and the parents
- Grandparent’s ability to care for the child’s daily needs
- The emotional relationship between the child and grandparents and more
For that you will need a resourceful attorney that can study the circumstances behind that case and collect evidence to help your case. Once you become a custodial parent you can apply for child support. Both of the child’s parents have a legal obligation to provide medical and financial support.
Attorney Daryl Longworth is a family law attorney licensed by the State Bar of Texas. He is the senior attorney at The Longworth Law Firm in Houston, Texas. Mr. Longworth is a graduate of the University of Houston Law Center. Prior to becoming a licensed attorney focusing on divorce law and family law in Texas, Mr. Longworth was a police officer for the Houston Police Department.