Sometimes matters of child custody extend beyond parents and involve grandparents. Grandparents may develop a strong bond with their grandchildren, and this bond may have a significant impact on a child's life far into the future. These issues are often complex and sensitive. At McClure Law Group, our Dallas child custody lawyers understand the interplay between parental rights and grandparent rights. We strive to achieve your desired results while minimizing the impact on the children who will be affected by a court's decision.Protecting Grandparents’ Rights in Family Law Matters
Each state has its own rules related to grandparents’ rights. In Texas, grandparents may file suit requesting possession and access or conservatorship if they believe that it is in their grandchild's best interest and other certain conditions are met. The grandparent must meet certain burdens of proof to obtain visitation or custody, including showing that they have "standing" and that the relief requested—either conservatorship or possession and access—is in the child's best interests.
The court may order certain rights for a grandparent after being petitioned if those rights are in the grandchild's best interests, and one of the following situations exists:
- The child’s present circumstances would significantly impair the child’s physical health or emotional development.
- The grandparent overcomes the presumption that a parent acts in the best interest of the parent’s child by a preponderance of evidence that denial of possession or access to the child would significantly impair the child’s physical health or emotional well-being, and the grandparent is a parent of a parent of the child who has been incarcerated, has been found incompetent, is dead, or does not have actual or court-ordered possession of or access to the child.
Parents in Texas have a fundamental and constitutional right to raise and rear their own children, which may include the right to exclude certain people from having contact with their children or making important decisions for them. However, these rights are not absolute. When a grandparent raises a grandchild who lives with them, the grandparent may wish to have custody. There are certain benefits to having court-ordered custody, including the right to apply for child support, since parents have a legal obligation to financially support their children.
A grandparent may also have standing to petition the court for custody if the grandchild has lived with them for six months or previously lived with the grandparent for six months and only moved out within 90 days of the petition being filed. A grandparent named by the court as a child's guardian also has standing to petition the court for custody. If these conditions are not met, a grandparent may file an original action for a managing conservatorship (but not possessory conservatorship) if they can prove under Texas Family Code section 102.004 that the grandchild's development is being harmed due to unfit parents or living conditions, or both parents (or a surviving parent, appointed managing conservator, or custodian) agree that the child should live with the grandparent.Consult a Dallas Lawyer for Your Child Custody Needs
At McClure Law Group, our family law attorneys understand how close and special the bond between a grandparent and grandchild may be. If you are a grandparent seeking possession and access or conservatorship, you should consult our Dallas child custody attorneys. Call us at 214.692.8200 or contact us via our online form to set up an appointment.