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Seeking Visitation With Your Grandchild

Can I get visitation with my grandchild in Texas?

Grandparents often play an important role in the lives of their grandchildren, nurturing and guiding the next generation. While most grandparents are able to visit their grandchildren on a regular basis with the support of the parents, at times divorce, the death of one parent, drug issues, or other serious factors can splinter a family. Grandparents who are not permitted to spend time with their grandchildren may attempt to seek visitation. Grandparents’ rights are a controversial issue in Texas and grandparents will be awarded visitation in very limited circumstances.

Grandparents’ Rights in Texas

All states have some form of grandparents’ rights laws, though many are severely limited. The United States Supreme Court’s ruling in the seminal case Troxel vs Granville lead many states to develop more restrictive grandparents’ rights laws. In that case, the Supreme Court held that while grandparents’ visitation rights are important, a parent’s rights are far more important and visitation should be awarded only in special cases.

Texas courts have adopted the position that parents should be able to choose whether their children have contact with their grandparents. However, under certain circumstances, grandparents will be awarded visitation because it is in the best interests of the child. Texas’ grandparent statute allows for visitation or access if:

  1. At least one biological or adoptive parent has parental rights over the child;
  2. The grandparent seeking visitation shows that denial of grandparent visitation will harm the child’s physical or emotional well-being; and
  3. The grandparent filing for visitation is the parent of the child’s parent, and the parent:
  • Was declared mentally incompetent by a court
  • Has been incarcerated for at least three months
  • Has died, or
  • Does not have actual visitation or court-ordered visitation with the child.

Obtaining visitation rights of a grandchild is a difficult process. Grandparents will face an uphill battle and need to have considerable supporting evidence. Grandparents desiring visitation rights with their grandchild should consult with an experienced Texas grandparents’ rights attorney as soon as possible for more information as to their legal rights.