Grandparents' Rights Within Texas As Applied Within Fort Worth Courts
The rights of grandparents in Texas are ever-changing, making it more and more difficult for grandparents to gain visitation with or custody of their grandchildren. While not impossible, gaining access to your grandchildren can be tricky.
Grandparents' rights took a major blow in 2000 by a U.S. Supreme Court case, Troxel v. Granville. The decision in this case is that "fit parents" are presumed to act in the best interest of their children, thus a state should not "inject itself into the private realm of the family" taking away a parent's right to decide what is best for their children including which family members spend time with their children and when those visits take place.
Grandparents can play a significant role in a child's life, one that a grandparent may well want to preserve, especially if a parent is denying a grandparent the ability to see the grandchild.
Grandparents rights in the state of Texas are greatly limited, meaning grandparents must meet very narrow requirements for a court to order visitation or custody by grandparents.
To gain custody of a grandchild, a grandparent must first overcome something called the parental presumption. The Texas Family Code, the governing set of statutes for all family law matters, mandates a presumption that a parent should be appointed a managing conservator of their own child and all the rights that go along with being a managing conservator. Overcoming this presumption requires proof that appointing a parent a managing conservator of the child would "significantly impair the child's physical health or emotional development." This is a difficult threshold to meet and involves the testimony of experts to identify the impairment to the child's physical health or emotional development.
To bring a suit for custody of a child, in addition to proving significant impairment to the child's physical health or emotional development, a grandparent may be able to use one of the following scenarios to gain relief from the Court if the criteria is met:
If the grandparent has had actual care, control, and possession of the child for at least six months and that six months ended no more than ninety days before the grandparent files the suit. If the child and the parent of the child has lived with the grandparent for at least six months, that six months ended no more than ninety days before the grandparent filed the suit, and the parent is deceased at the time the suit is filed. If both parents are deceased at the time the suit is filed.
To gain some sort of visitation or possession schedule with a grandchild, a grandparent must show that denying possession of or access to the grandchild would "significantly impair the child's physical health or emotional well being."
The family law attorneys at The Decker Law Firm, a Dallas/Fort Worth area (D/FW) firm, has the knowledge of the courts in the Dallas/Fort Worth area (D/FW), Texas statutes, and legal skills to assist you in seeking visitation with or custody of your grandchildren or conversely representing a you, as a parent in an action by a grandparent to gain custody of or visitation with your child.
Because every legal matter is unique, please contact us for an initial consultation to help ensure you have the information you need to make the appropriate decisions for your specific circumstances.