Parents in Texas have the constitutional right to raise their own children, which can involve excluding certain people from having contact with or making important decisions for their children. These parenting rights are not absolute, however.

Caring for children often goes beyond parents and involves other close relatives, including grandparents. And invoking grandparents’ rights in Texas may be the best solution available in certain child custody situations.

When one parent files for divorce, it affects the entire extended family. A divorce can trigger concerns for involved grandparents that they will miss out on their grandchild’s life. If a grandparent gets along with both parents, formally invoking grandparents’ rights may not be necessary; and it’s preferable to work with the parents than to take legal action against them for a variety of reasons. When that option is no longer feasible, however, grandparents do have legal options available to them. The Pearland grandparents rights attorneys at Terry and Robert can help you navigate this difficult period.

Grandparents and Access to Grandchildren

When a divorce or a separation happens, it can sometimes be incredibly difficult to navigate – especially when children are involved. Other family members that maintain a close relationship with the children, such as grandparents, will likely feel the effects of a divorce or separation as well. Because of this, it’s important to have a good understanding of therole grandparents play when a divorce or separation occurs.

In Texas, grandparents may file a lawsuit requesting possession and access or conservatorship. The grandparent must prove they have “standing” to bring a claim and that the relief requested is in the child’s best interest. If you are a grandparent currently unable to see your grandchild, you can invoke your rights for visitation if you meet all three of the following criteria:

  • You are the biological grandparent of your grandchild
  • One parent still has not terminated their parental rights at the time of your lawsuit
  • Not having access would significantly impair your grandchild’s physical health or emotional well-being

Once you clear this legal hurdle, you will also have to prove one of the following is true: the parent taking care of the child is incompetent, the parent died, the parent has been in prison for 90 days before you filed suit, or the parent doesn’t have custody of the child.

An important point to note is that in Texas, grandparents can seek managing conservatorship over their grandchild even if the parents are not divorcing. If you’ve been awarded custody as a grandparent, we’ll help you pursue an order of child support from the child’s parents.

When a divorce or a separation happens, it can sometimes be incredibly difficult to navigate – especially when children are involved. Other family members that maintain a close relationship with the children, such as grandparents, will likely feel the effects of a divorce or separation as well. Because of this, it’s important to have a good understanding of thegrandparents play when a divorce or separation occurs.

Grandparent Rights in Texas

While a grandparent’s relationship with their grandchildren is incredibly special, sometimes these bonds can be endangered in the event of a tumultuous divorce, when Child Protective Services (CPS) is involved, or if a stepparent adopts a child. Because of this, in Texas (as well as many other states) there are several laws in place that protect the grandparents’ right to see their grandchildren.

In Texas, a grandparent can request visitation privileges under the following circumstances:

  • The parent or parents have neglected or abused the grandchild
  • >The parent has died, been found incompetent, or has been in jail or prison for at least three months before filing the petition
  • The parent-child relationship has been terminated by a court order
  • The child has already lived with the grandparent for six or more months

In the event someone other than a stepparent has adopted a grandchild, the grandparents cannot request visitation privileges; however, if the grandchild is currently living with the grandparent, custody can be requested. In instances where grandparents feel their rights are being violated, they should consult with an experienced.

Understanding the Role of Grandparents in Divorced & Separated Families

The process of a divorce or separation can be incredibly trying on the family and anyone close to them. Grandparents are often prone to experiencing the emotional toll of the separation as they watch and support their adult child and grandchildren through this transitional period. While grandparents will want to be there to offer their loved ones support, it’s important they navigate their role with care during this process. Some of the ways that grandparents can best help to be there for the family when a divorce or separation happens include:

Continue the Relationship With Grandchildren

Grandparents provide a source of comfort, love, and sense of security for many grandchildren. Because of this, it’s important that grandparents continue their relationships with the grandchildren during a divorce, as it can be a source of reassurance during a difficult transition.
When around the grandchildren, it’s best to keep things as normal as possible. If a grandparent has regular visits, it’s important to keep the schedule as consistent as possible and/or to stay connected through phone or video calls. It’s important to note that children may lash out or feel angry, hurt, confused, or unheard during a divorce. In these situations, it’s important that as many supportive people are allowed to be there for the children, including grandparents. Let your minor children know that whatever they may be feeling is normal and that it’s ok for them to feel that way. Reassuring the grandchildren and validating their feelings will help them to understand they are not alone.

Stay Neutral

It can be easy for a grandparent to feel a stronger alliance to his or her own adult child during a divorce or separation. Even if the grandparent has negative feelings toward the other parent, it’s best to stay neutral, especially when around the grandchildren.

In these situations, grandparents should not interfere with the grandchild’s feelings towards either parent. When speaking about the divorce or another parent, the conversation should be kept light, positive, or at least neutral. Avoid prying the grandchildren for information about what they are observing at home. Trying to pit the grandchildren against a parent can only add to their confusion and hurt. However, it’s important to ensure they are healthy and safe within both homes, regardless. In the event a grandparent notices something concerning, they should bring it to the attention of one or both parents first and only consider escalating the concern if a grandchild is believed to be in danger.

Be Flexible and Understanding

After a divorce or separation, it’s likely that things like birthdays and holidays won’t be quite the same as they once were. While a grandparent may have always spent birthdays or certain holidays with their grandchildren, the parents’ separation will change these arrangements moving forward. While this is sometimes a sad realization, it’s most important that grandparents be flexible and understanding of the situation. Accepting the fact that one’s grandchildren may be spending time with other family over a specific holiday or special time is difficult, but focusing on building new traditions and making the times spent together extra special can create a smoother adjustment.

Respect the Agreements of Both Parents

While going through a divorce or separation can be a major transitional period, grandparents should respect the wishes of both parents when it comes to their children. For instance, if they have to finish their homework before bed or are scheduled for a sports practice at a certain time, the grandparent should honor these arrangements. Under no circumstances should the grandparent state or imply that the rules set by a parent are more or less important than those of the other parent. No matter how a grandparent may feel personally about a parent, it’s imperative that the ground rules set by their children are respected and maintained.

Contact the Grandparent Rights Lawyers at Terry and Roberts

There are circumstances in which Texas courts allow third party family members – including grandparents – to obtain possession of a child. At Terry & Roberts, our Pearland grandparents rights lawyers understand the love and concern grandparents have for their families. We will strive to achieve your desired results while minimizing any negative impact on the children involved.

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