Grandparents & Custody Rights During & After the Holidays
You are anticipating the upcoming holiday season and anxiously await visits from your children and grandchildren. But what happens if your grandchildren’s parents won’t let you see them? Do you have any rights during holidays or during the year?
Unfortunately, Texas law is not very grandparent friendly. It doesn’t mean that you don’t have other options. It just means that you won’t be able to assume that the laws will be on your side. Texas law gives a lot of power to the parents when one or both are still in the picture. A creative attorney can help you explore other options to help you keep the relationships you’ve already established with your grandchildren.
What Does the Law Say For Grandparents?
If one of the parents wants to keep your grandchildren away from you, the law presumes that this parent made this decision with the “best interest” of the child in mind. You would have to overcome this presumption. Grandparents would need to demonstrate in court that the separation would significantly impair your grandchildren’s physical health or emotional well-being. That’s a very high standard.
Additionally, Texas law prohibits grandparents in the following situations from filing a court case:
- Both parents have relinquished their parental rights
- Both parents have had their parental rights terminated
- Both parents are dead
- If a child is adopted, or in the process of adoption, by a person other than a stepparent
Grandparents may request visitation only if the grandparent is:
- The parent of a deceased parent
- The parent of an incarcerated parent
- The parent of a parent who has been found to be incompetent by a court and does not have custody or visitation rights
Unfortunately, even in these situations, grandparents have an incredibly high burden to meet in court.
What Options Do Grandparents Have?
If you fall under any of the second set of bullet points above, you may be able to bring a case in court. Recent grandparent litigation has been more successful when you use expert opinions about the effect of losing their grandparents. There are challenges in obtaining the supporting data that experts need to create an opinion a court will accept. But done thoroughly and presented properly, an expert opinion can greatly increase your chance of success.
It’s also possible to use a mediator to help the objecting parent understand how being kept-away from their grandparents negatively affects their children. Of course, the challenge can be getting the other parent to agree to a mediation.
Finally, become involved or donate to organizations that lobby for changes to the laws that currently make it so difficult for Texas grandparents to see their grandchildren.
We Are Here to Help
If you are a grandparent who has been barred from seeing your grandchildren, seek legal assistance to try to resolve the impasse that makes it impossible for you to see them.