Grandparents who have been blocked from seeing their grandchildren in Texas often wonder if they have any legal rights. The answer, as is so often the case in family law, depends on the circumstances. The ability to enforce grandparents’ rights hinges on several factors.

A Grandparent’s Right to Custody

Grandparents can and do gain custody of their grandchildren, but the process is not simple. If both of a child’s parents are deceased, Section 153.431 of the Texas Family Code specifies that the court may consider appointing a grandparent as the “managing conservator” which would give that grandparent custody of the child.

Grandparents may seek custody when one or both parents are still living but unable to meet the child’s basic needs. When a child is already living with a grandparent, it may be much easier for that grandparent to gain custody because the arrangement would foster continuity in the child’s life. However, the court has discretion in whether to choose a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or some other party. All decisions are supposed to be made in the best interests of the child, rather than the desires of parents or grandparents.

What Grandparents Have to Show to Gain Visitation Rights

Texas statutes state outright that parents are presumed to be acting in a child’s best interests when they deny grandparents access to their grandchildren. To gain visitation rights against the wishes of a child’s parent, the grandparents must present evidence to overcome that presumption.

Specifically, McKinney family lawyers would work to show how denying visitation “would significantly impair the child’s physical health and emotional well-being.” For instance, if a grandparent had been regularly meeting with the child and teaching a skill such as cooking or educating the child about family heritage, a family law attorney could emphasize how the loss of this education and emotional contact would negatively impact the child.

Technical Requirements for Requesting Visitation

In addition to showing why a denial of access would harm the child, grandparents must also demonstrate that the factual situation is right for granting visitation. This includes showing that one of the following is true:

  • A parent has been found incompetent
  • A parent has been incarcerated for at least three months
  • A parent is deceased
  • A parent does not have visitation with the child

If both parents have given up or lost parental rights, then a grandparent generally does not have the ability to petition for visitation.

McKinney Family Lawyers Can Help Grandparents Seeking Custody or Visitation

A child’s connection with a grandparent can be the most influential relationship during their formative years. However, unless a grandparent is able to prove the importance of that relationship to the court’s satisfaction, that relationship could be severed.

Working with experienced McKinney family lawyers can enable grandparents to make the best arguments in favor of overcoming the presumptions in the law and granting visitation. To learn more about how the dedicated legal team at Nordhaus & Nordhaus, PC could help you enforce your rights as a grandparent, contact us today for a confidential consultation.