Being a grandparent is one of the greatest joys in life. This role presents such a wonderful opportunity to invest in your grandchildren’s lives to make a difference in their upbringing.
What happens, though, when you believe that you need to take a more permanent role in the life of a grandchild? While the state of Texas does not afford many legal rights to grandparents, there are still reasons grandparents can file for custody of a grandchild.
I’ll further detail the grandparents’ rights that are allowed by law and how you can pursue custody of a grandchild if the situation calls for it.
What Texas Law Says About Grandparents Pursuing Custody
The Texas Family Code contains a specific section of laws that govern possession or access to a child by a grandparent. As it pertains to gaining custody of a grandchild, the legal options you need to be aware of include the following:
- Appointment of a grandparent (or another relative) as managing conservator of the child
- Suit by a grandparent for possession or access to the child
1. Grandparent Appointed Custody
If your grandchild’s parents are deceased, then the court will consider who should be appointed custody of the child. Grandparents are afforded the opportunity to be granted custody; however, it is not guaranteed or automatic.
The court will also consider brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, or other close relatives to be appointed as the managing conservator of your grandchild. A judge has the discretion to make a decision in the best interest of the child.
To make an argument that you should be appointed managing conservator of your grandchild, you need to gather and present compelling evidence that supports your argument. Evidence should include:
- Dates and times that capture your continuous involvement in the child’s life
- Evidence that you have made a positive impact on your grandchild’s upbringing
- Positive notes, messages, or other forms of communication from your grandchild
- Financial documents that prove your ability to provide a secure environment for your grandchild
2. Grandparent Files Suit for Possession or Access
A grandparent can also request possession of or access to a grandchild by filing a petition with the court. This petition should explain why you believe it’s in the child’s best interest to be under your care.
The Texas Family Code states that you must satisfy the following requirements for your petition to be heard by a judge:
- Execute an affidavit that supports your knowledge or belief that you should be granted possession of or access to your grandchild.
- Include supporting facts in the affidavit that outline your claims.
- Present your argument that denying possession/access “would significantly impair the child’s physical health or emotional well-being.”
The court will then review the petition to determine whether the facts are true. Otherwise, the court will dismiss your request. If the court believes the facts have merit, you will have the opportunity to present your case as you seek to obtain custody of your grandchild.
Other Option: Reasonable Possession or Access to the Grandchild
If you do not believe that you are in a position to gain custody of your grandchild, then you still have legal options to pursue what is known as “reasonable possession of or access to a grandchild by a grandparent.”
The Texas Family Code outlines specific situations where grandparents can file a petition with supporting evidence that claims they should have a formal, legal relationship with their grandchild.
There are four primary reasons that a grandparent can request reasonable possession/access to a grandchild. These relate to when one or both parents of the child is facing one of these situations:
- Incarcerated in jail or prison during a 3-month period prior to filing the petition
- Found by a court to be incompetent
- Lacks actual or court-ordered possession of or access to the child
- One of the parents is deceased
The court may also consider special situations such as one or both parents are deemed to be unfit in the role of parents (e.g. underage parents). A grandparent could petition the court for reasonable possession of or access to the grandchild to ensure the child receives proper care until the parents are deemed fit.
Find Expert Legal Support With Grandparents’ Rights in Texas
Navigating grandparents’ rights in Texas can be a challenging situation. I want to help you arrive at the best possible situation providing care for your grandchild and obtaining the type of relationship you believe is in the child’s best interest.
I focus on family law exclusively so that I can provide my clients with expert support. I currently help grandparents in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, and Harris County with these types of legal situations.
If you live in one of these Texas counties, then contact me today to discuss your situation. I’ll further explain the reasons grandparents can file for custody of a grandchild in Texas and help you get started on your petition to the court.
Call my offices today at 281-944-5485 or 979-267-7660 for a consultation. I am here to help you and your grandchild!