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Legislators in Texas consider strengthening grandparents' rights

Lawmakers in Texas are considering the merits of a bill that would expand the rights of grandparents and other relatives in matters of visitation, adoption and child custody. House Bill 393, if passed, would allow grandparents, uncles and aunts to sue the parents of a child in the event that the parents are believed to be unfit.

Texas law currently lets grandparents sue sons-in-law, daughters-in-law and single parents in child custody disputes, but the proposed legislation would extend suing rights to allow grandparents and other relatives to sue both biological parents of a child.

The bill is up against major opposition. In particular, home school advocates are concerned that if the bill is passed into law, grandparents throughout Texas will sue their parenting children over education decisions.

Additionally, the U.S. Supreme Court already ruled in 2000 that parents can choose who has visitation rights with their children.

Regardless of the likelihood that the bill will not pass, there wouldn't be a sudden flood of child custody lawsuits filed by grandparents. To remove a child from his or her parent's custody, it has to be proven that the child is somehow in danger. There are certainly situations in which grandparents have to step in and protect their grandchildren by getting them out of an unfit parent's custody, but that effort requires legal support.

If grandparents know that their grandkids aren't being properly taken care of, then there are legal steps that can ensure the protection of the children's best interests.

Source: kutnews.org, "Grandparental Rights Bill Up for Committee Debate at Capitol," Veronica Zaragovia, April 15, 2013

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