I'm A Grandparent. Do I Have Visitation Rights?

I'm A Grandparent. Do I Have Visitation Rights?

Sometimes the person best equipped to care for child is not their own parents, but their grandparents. Under federal law, grandparents do not have any legal right to see or visit their grandchildren since the court assumes that parents will act in the best interests of their children. While gaining custody of grandchildren in Texas can be extremely difficult, grandparents can petition the court for visitation rights to a beloved grandchild.

Visitation refers to the continuing contact or visiting of a child. With parent's permission, grandparents are able to see their grandchildren at any time. When parents begin limiting this time with grandchildren, grandparents have little options available besides petitioning the court for the right to access their grandchild.

How can I get visitation of my grandchild?

In many cases, the court will only agree to hear cases in limited circumstances, such as when one of the parents of the child is incarcerated, deceased, not living with the child, or found to be mentally incarcerated. Once any of these have been established, the court will hear their case for custody.

The court will general order custody if it can be shown that visiting with the grandparent is in the child's best interests and:

  • The parents of the child are divorced;
  • One parent has been incarcerated, found otherwise incompetent, or passed away;
  • A parent has abused or neglected the child;
  • The child has lived with the grandparent for over six months; or
  • The relationship between the child and one of the parents has been legally terminated by the court.

If the child has been adopted by another family, biological grandparents do not have any right to petition the court for visitation. They are also unable to seek visitation of the child if both parents have had their parental rights terminated or if they have passed away. In these instances, someone else will be designated as a managing conservator of the child.