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An Overview of Grandparents' Rights in Texas

Can I sue for visitation with my grandchild in Texas?

Grandparents often play an important role in their grandchildren’s lives. At times, circumstances arise in which a grandparent has been prevented from visiting with their grandchild. Every state has some type of grandparent visitation law, though the extent of the law varies widely by state. In Texas, it is difficult but not impossible for grandparents to receive an award of visitation with their grandchild against the parent’s wishes. Our Austin, Texas grandparents’ rights lawyer at Stinson Moyle, PLLC discuss grandparents’ rights laws in the state below.

Grandparent Visitation

In order to have standing to seek visitation with your grandchild in Texas, you must prove the following conditions exist:

  1. You are a biological parent to the biological parent of the child in question;

  2. At least one biological or adopted parent of the child has not terminated his or her parental rights;

  3. You can prove that denying visitation will greatly impair the child’s physical or emotional health.

Generally, the last factor, proving that without visitation the child’s physical or emotional state will suffer, is the hardest to prove. You will likely need to employ the services of a professional to testify as to your positive impact on the child. In addition to meeting the three requirements above, you will need to show one of the following circumstances exist:

  • The parent is deceased;

  • The parent has been incarcerated for 90 days or more before filing of the visitation action;

  • The parent has been found incompetent in a separate lawsuit;

  • The parent does not have actual or court-ordered custody of the child.

Reviewing the case law, visitation has typically been awarded to grandparents in Texas under very limited circumstances. In most cases, the court presumes that the grandparent should pursue access to the child through the living parents. Evidence that could tend towards an award of visitation may include proof that the child lived with the grandparent for a considerable amount of time, evidence the child’s parents are abusive or negligent, or, at times, an older child’s stated desire to spend time with the grandparent. Any grandparent who wants to obtain visitation or custody of a grandchild should consult with a grandparents’ rights attorney as soon as possible.