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How are grandparents' rights handled in Texas?

One of the often murky questions that comes up in Texas when it comes to family law has to do with grandparents' rights. If a grandparent would like to have visitation or custody of a child and there is a dispute, it's important that the law be understood when it comes to family law issues. The state has certain criteria when grandparents' rights are in question and knowing them can help smooth the process.

In general, grandparents have the right to file a case against the parents for visitation rights. If the circumstances are such that the grandparents are concerned about the safety of the children or would like to have visitation, there are instances in which this too is allowed. For example, if the parents are divorced and there is neglect going on, the grandparents can take steps to receive visitation and custody of the child or children. Abuse is another factor that can result in grandparents seeking visitation and custody.

Parents who have gotten into trouble with the law and find themselves incarcerated can also lose custody of the child to the grandparents. A parent might be found incompetent or has died - these are also justifications for a grandparent to try and gain custody. In some circumstances, the family legal issues are such that the parents' rights to have the child have been terminated. If the child has lived with the grandparent for at least six months, the grandparent can request that visitation be granted.

Often, the parent is not able or willing to care for the child and the grandparent takes over. If the grandchild is living with the grandparent, the grandparent can file a case to receive custody and, in certain circumstances, can receive child support as well. These cases are often difficult and deal with the nuance of family law. Sometimes the grandparents receive custody and sometimes the parents receive custody. Regardless, if a grandparent needs information about visitation and custody, the first step is to discuss the matter with a legal professional experienced in grandparents' rights.

Source: TexasAttorneyGeneral.gov, "Grandparents' Page," accessed on Oct. 7, 2014

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