While parents are arguably the most important people in a child’s life, grandparents are certainly a close second. And while grandparents don’t have the same rights that parents do regarding the upbringing of a child, they do have rights in Texas.
And, according to Section 153.433 of the Texas Family Code, the court will back grandparents who want access to their grandchildren in certain instances. Specifically, the law has provisions for the court to “order reasonable possession of or access to a grandchild by a grandparent.”
This can happen under these conditions:
(1) at the time the relief is requested, at least one biological or adoptive parent of the child has not had that parent’s parental rights terminated;
(2) the grandparent requesting possession of or access to the child overcomes the presumption that a parent acts in the best interest of the parent’s child by proving by a preponderance of the evidence that denial of possession of or access to the child would significantly impair the child’s physical health or emotional well-being; and
(3) the grandparent requesting possession of or access to the child is a parent of a parent of the child and that parent of the child
- has been incarcerated in jail or prison during the three-month period preceding the filing of the petition;
- has been found by a court to be incompetent;
- is dead; or
- does not have actual or court-ordered possession of or access to the child.
That second point is a little hard to unpack, but it basically looks at what’s in the best interest of the child, which is a standard judges typically apply when making determinations in cases. The idea is that while parents typically have their children’s best interests in mind, they might not want a grandparent to see the children, when it would actually be better for the children to spend time with their grandparent.
But the provisions in the third point make clear that these are pretty unusual circumstances. It has to be a situation where a parent is not capable or available to look after his or her child.
These conditions come into play when the court issues an order “granting possession of or access to a child by a grandparent that is rendered over a parent’s objections.” There are also custody possibilities for grandparents in cases where Child Protective Services is involved, but those can be part of a lengthy process that’s not always easy or straightforward, and the best interest of the child will certainly factor in.
If you’re a grandparent and you’re looking to exercise your rights—especially if you feel your situation meets what’s described in this article—we’re happy to see you for a consultation at the Law Office of Lisa A. Vance. We can talk about what’s available to you legally given the particulars of your situation, and we can also talk to you about CPS options if you suspect abuse or neglect of your grandchildren. We’re a firm that believes strongly in seeking solutions that prioritize what’s best for the children, and we know that in many cases, that means involving grandparents.