Certainly, nobody can deny that grandparents play an essential role in the life of a growing child. With grandparents, children grow strong bonds and build memories that will last for years to come. In fact, many states are beginning to acknowledge the necessity for legal rights for grandparents. Texas is one of these states.
Are you uncertain if you can file for grandparent rights? Not sure if you should file a suit claiming you deserve visitation? This guide will help you better understand your rights as a grandparent in Texas.
When Can Grandparents File for Grandparent Rights?
In Texas, grandparents may be able to file suit requesting custody if it is determined to be in the best interest of the child, and the situation meets specific requirements. No matter your intentions, you must go to court for an award of visitation or custody.
Grandparents may be considered for visitation in several forms. For instance, having access to the child could mean that you have the right to call or write letters to the child. If you have possession of the child, you may be entitled to visitation. Of course, you may also request custody as a whole. For instance, you might already have full physical custody of the child but might be interested in having the full legal rights of a parent. The court can make a decision in this regard as well.
What Do Courts Use to Assess the Need for Grandparent Rights?
When it comes to assessing the need for a grandparent to have rights to a child, the court will use the harm standard. The harm standard helps the judge determine if the child will suffer from not having contact with his or her grandparents.
The harm standard is about much more than the child feeling sad about a grandparent's lack of involvement in their life. The harm standard requires actual harm, perhaps physical or emotional, to occur if the grandparents are not involved.
If you plan on going to court to request visitation, you can ask for a psychiatric evaluation of the child or to present the testimony of a social worker in court. Your family law attorney can help you determine how to do this.
What Special Circumstances Allow for Grandparent Rights?
Grandparents are entitled to rights only in certain circumstances. For instance, the parents of the child must be divorced or never married. You might also need to demonstrate the abuse or neglect of the child. You may also be entitled to rights if the child lived at your house for at least six months in the past.
Grandparents may also have rights if at least one parent is in jail. One of the parents may also be deceased or deemed incompetent by the court in the past. As a result, maintaining a relationship with the grandchild is increasingly difficult.
You may not be awarded visitation or custody if somebody who is not a step-parent adopted the child. Legal adoption supersedes grandparent visitation in Texas.
What Happens If You Get Custody?
If the court awards you custody of the child, you may be able to apply for child support. You may also be entitled to financial and medical obligations by one or both living parents. These are all issues to discuss further with your lawyer.
Do You Need a Hire an Attorney for Grandparent Rights?
Hiring an attorney is essential for obtaining rights as a grandparent. Legal counsel understands the grandparent rights laws in Texas, ensuring that you receive the visitation or custody that you are entitled to. Make an appointment to consult with one of our professionals today.