We all hope children grow up in the best environment possible. Often, difficult situations arise within the family, which create grandparents’ concern for the children’s best interest. When a child does not have access to one parent or a grandparent, lack of these critical relationships can cause the child to suffer. In Texas, there are many different circumstances where grandparents may have certain rights of possession and access to the grandchild(ren). Each state’s rules on grandparents’ rights vary as family law is dependent on state laws.
In Texas, the state law strongly supports maintaining the rights of the biological parents and keeping the families together. When parents are supporting their children properly and no major concerns develop within the family relationship which would hurt the children’s well-being, then nothing in the law generally supports legal intervention between the parent-child relationship. Texas has specific laws pertaining to parents alone and others specifically, and other laws that apply to adults in general including grandparents.
In the event that a negative circumstance arises which affects the nuclear family and which hurts the child, then grandparents may have legal rights to intervene the weakened relationship of the family. Situations that could develop allowing grandparents such rights include: death of a parent, termination of legal parental rights, incarceration of a parent, domestic violence, incompetent parent, substance abuse by one parent, etc. Although, the grandparents’ right in these situations are not presumed to be an automatic right to access to the grandchildren under Texas laws impacting the grandparents’ rights. There must be other factors present for a court to order enforcement of grandparents’ rights. Such regulations pertain to biological or adoptive grandparents, not step grandparents.
Specifically, there are certain situations supporting grandparents’ rights in Texas:
(1) Authorized agreement: Where the parent(s) voluntarily agree with the grandparent to transfer most or all parental responsibilities and legal rights to the grandparent.
(2) Termination of parental rights: although parents’ legal rights may be terminated, that parent’s parents’ rights are not terminated.
(3) Grandparent adoption: When legal parental rights are terminated, grandparent may petition to adopt the grandchild and the grandparent must meet certain deadlines and other requirements for adoption.
(4) Appointment as managing conservator: Managing conservator has custody of a child and when a parent dies or has their parental rights terminated, a court has discretion over whom to appoint and may appoint the grandparent as managing conservator.
(5) Parent not available to child: When parent is incompetent, becomes incarcerated, dies, loses parental rights, the grandparent of this unavailable parent may request rights to possession and access of the child so no harm may result to the child in the child’s best interest.
In Texas, often to assert grandparents’ rights, a lawsuit must be filed, are very difficult to go through, involve many steps and procedures, and must be proven. A qualified attorney will help you through the process and suggest your best options.
About the Author: Mala Sharma has been practicing family law and personal injury with her family at the Law Offices of Sharma & Associates, founded in 1997 with over 42 years of combined experience. Mala is a Board of Advocates for the Houston Trial Lawyers Association, Vice-Chair of the American Bar Association GP Solo YLD, member of the Houston Bar Association, President Emeritus of the Houston Northwest Bar Association, and prior board member of the South Asian Bar Association.
This material is available for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. If you require advice on any particular legal question, you may contact Sharma & Associates at 281-893-8644 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.