Until recently, there were no visitation rights established for anyone
other than a child’s parents. There are still no federal grandparent
visitation laws on the books, so if you are a grandparent, you might be
wondering about what rights you have. Every state now has statutes pertaining
to non-parent visitation, but they vary wildly from state to state. When
visitation is a concern, this lack of clarity can be frustrating. Thankfully,
Texas has well-established guidelines that allow for grandparent visitation
under specific circumstances.
What to Do if the Child’s Parents Deny Access?
If the child’s parents are objecting to your visitation it can be
incredibly disheartening. If mediation is not an effective method for
resolving this issue, you will need to get a court to hear your case.
Courts are more likely to hear your case if the child’s conservator
is incarcerated, deceased, found mentally incompetent, or not currently
living with the child.
In Texas, once the courts hear your case and determine that your visitation
is in the best interest of the child, you need to provide proof of one
or more of the following circumstances:
- The parents divorced
- The parents abused or neglected the child
- Parent incarceration
- A court-order terminating the parent-child relationship
- Parent has been found incompetent
- Parent has died
- The child has lived with the grandparent for at least six months
An exception to these guidelines is in the case of adoption. If the child
has been adopted by someone other than their stepparent, grandparents
are not able to request access. These statutes are not guarantees to access,
so you need an
attorney skilled in family law to help secure your visitation rights.
Visitation Is Not Custody
If your grandchild already lives with you, it might feel like the logical
choice to seek custody instead of visitation. Custody can be further broken
down into managing conservatorship (which provides full custody) and possessory
conservatorship (which entitles you input on important issues in the child’s life).
The requirements for seeking custody are different than those of visitation,
and you must meet one of the following guidelines:
- The child is living in a dangerous environment (either emotionally and/or
- The child’s current guardian has agreed to let you have custody
- You’ve had possession of the child for 6 months or more
- The child and the child’s parent have lived with you for 6 months or more
The best way to obtain visitation rights or full custody of a grandchild
is by securing an attorney who is well-versed in family law. Jerry Loftin
& Associates is a trusted name in family law throughout the Fort Worth area.
Contact us online
to request a free initial case evaluation today.