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Why and when should a grandparent speak to a family law attorney?

The ideal vision of the family is likely one in which grandparents are generally seen as having a positive role to fill in the care and upbringing of a grandchild. That being the case, if a Texas child's parents' relationship happens to decay, it's a good chance any custody arrangement will look to foster ongoing contact with grandparents.

But that doesn't always happen. If the grandparents are estranged from their adult child or if it should happen that custody of grandchildren is granted to the former son- or daughter-in-law with whom they don't get along, then visitation could be blocked. A court might allow this based on a presumption that the custodial parent is denying access to ensure the best interests of the child.

This does not mean that you as a grandparent in Texas have no recourse in trying to assert your rights to be part of their grandchildren's lives. But doing so does require understanding the nuances of Texas family law as it regards grandparent rights and that is why consulting with an attorney might be important.

To begin with, it is necessary to understand that the court will only entertain a request for grandparent access or visitation under certain conditions. These include if a parent:

  • Is in jail or prison
  • Is found by a court to be mentally incompetent
  • Has died
  • Doesn't live with the child currently.

Should a case be accepted by the court, the grandparents might be able to obtain visitation or access by virtue of the parents' divorce; evidence of parental abuse or neglect; the court's terminating of the relationship between one of the parents and the child; or if the grandparents have provided for the home life of the child for at least six months.

The complexities of the law in this area are such that you want to be sure you understand what is possible. And the earlier that determination is made, the easier it is likely to be to develop a plan for how to achieve the best possible outcome.

Source: FindLaw, "Grandparents' Visitation Rights in Texas," accessed Jan. 7, 2016

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