The general presumption under the law is that parents of children have the right to control access to and the welfare of their offspring, even to grandparents. This is a concept that has the blessing of the U.S. Supreme Court by virtue of a decision made a few years ago.
Due in part to that decision and because of a recognition that in most cases grandparents play an important and positive role in the lives of their grandchildren, every state has laws that provide at least visitation rights when the parents relationships break down. In some cases, grandparents may also have the right to seek child custody.
Understanding the conditions that must exist is not something that is always easy to determine. To protect rights, assure the integrity of positive family relationships and the welfare of children, seeking the advice of an experienced family law attorney is advisable.
In broad terms, the law in Texas works this way. If grandparents can show that it will serve the child's best interest, they can petition a court for visitation if:
- The child's parents are divorced.
- The child has been abused or neglected by a parent.
- The parent has died, is determined incompetent or been incarcerated.
- A parent-child relationship has been terminated by court order.
- A child has lived with a grandparent for six months or more.
If a grandchild has been given up for adoption to someone besides a stepparent, grandparents don't have a right to seek visitation privileges. And the only time a grandparent might be able to seek outright custody, called conservatorship in Texas, is limited to when the child lives with the grandparent.
The laws can be complicated and navigating the legal waters is best done with the help of a steady and skilled hand.