Are you a grandparent who is taking on a parenting role on behalf of your child? The nature of modern life is that grandparents are now more than ever caring for their grandchildren as if they were their children. The structure of families in the family dynamic that many people have enjoyed for generations has shifted. If you are a grandparent who has developed a relationship like this with your grandchildren, it can be both rewarding and stressful. You may not have considered the likelihood that you would ever be asked to come back and raise your grandchildren on a primary basis.
You may be taking on this role because your child and their spouse are in the military. There may be circumstances where the parents of your grandchildren have been deployed to other parts of the world or are otherwise unable to care for the children due to their military commitments. In that case, you may know that you are going to be taking care of your grandchildren for a certain period due to the military commitments of their parents. This allows all parties involved to understand the nature of the relationship and for your grandchildren to be able to appreciate their time with you but also understand that they will be going and living with their parents once again.
In other circumstances, your child may be incarcerated. As a result of their incarceration, you may have stepped up and offered to take custody of responsibilities for your grandchildren. The amount of contact that your grandchildren may be able to have with your child while he or she is behind bars is probably limited. Therefore, your responsibilities as a grandparent and primary caregiver are extremely broad. Being able to help your grandchildren understand the circumstances that they find themselves in and ensure that they do not lose touch with your child during this time is extremely important.
These are just a couple of the circumstances that may result in your having to take primary custody of your grandchildren. As we mentioned a moment ago it can be both rewarding and stressful to be in this kind of position with your grandchildren. The old joke when it comes to grandparenting is that you get to spend time with the grandkids, fill them with sugar, and then send them home to your parents. However, as the primary caretaker of your grandchildren, they stay with you consistently. You are responsible for them at all times and must be able to care for them in good times and bad.
What if you can’t see your grandchildren as much as you would like?
On the other side, this issue is our grandparents who do not get to see their children or grandchildren as much as they would like. If your grandchildren are splitting their time between the home of their mother and the home of their father then not only is their daily schedule more full than other children but you might be caught in the middle of the back-and-forth parenting that goes on between parents. Somehow your child and their Co-parent may have settled upon the belief that their children are better off not encountering you. This may be an especially bitter pill to swallow since you think that your home is probably the most stable and loving environment for your grandchildren.
Some grandparents in your situation may be able to talk with the child and their spouse about Some time with the grandchildren. You may want to attempt to reach out to your child about being able to re-enter the life of your grandchildren. You can point to your shared history with the grandchildren, the relationship that you already have as well as the support that you can provide the grandchildren with period these may be especially convincing arguments to make given the circumstances that you and your child find yourselves in. Many grandparents Can offer not only physical and emotional support but also financial support that the children and their grandchildren could benefit from.
On the other hand, your child and their Co-parent may not be agreeable to a situation like this. Whatever is going on in their lives may prevent them from being able to see the situation objectively and be able to weigh the pros and cons of allowing children to meet you on a greater or more frequent basis. For most families the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren is important. If your child does not see it this way then your ability to be able to develop a relationship with your grandchildren in the future may be extremely limited. However, you can take it to heart but there are options for you to be able to fight for your r grandchildren and a place for you in their lives.
The question that we need to ask ourselves today is Whether or not you as a grandparent have a legal right to see your grandchild? Specifically, do you have the right to see your grandchildren against the wishes of your child? Is it even practical for you to pursue oh right like this if your child is dead set against you are doing so? These are the sort of Relevant questions that you need to be asking yourself. these specific circumstances that you and your grandchildren find yourselves in can inform you a great deal about whether you are in a good position to pursue visitation or even conservatorships rights about your grandchildren?
In what circumstances do grandparents have visitation rights in Texas?
When an attorney this asked a legal question, our patented answer tends to be-it depends. This is a way for an attorney to convey that the answer to the question may not be that clear-cut. the circumstances that you find yourself in will likely have as much to do with whether or not you do have visitation rights to your grandchildren as the last 8’s. You may very well have the right to request more time with your grandchildren under Texas law. By the same token, depending upon your circumstances you may not be able to request visitation or custody of your grandchildren at all.
Generally speaking, grandparent rights are covered by the Texas family code in chapter 153. If you take the time to read through the statutes contained in chapter 153, you will see that they attempt to explain when you as a grandparent have the right to ask a court for visitation, access, and conservatorships rights. Do not confuse this with a situation where you would be guaranteed conservatorships or visitation rights simply by petitioning or court or for sticking up for yourself in this regard. Rather, while you are guaranteed nothing because of these statutes you are given a road map on how to pursue visitation or custody rights about your grandchildren in Texas. What matters R the circumstances that you find yourself in and your specific history with your grandchildren.
There are limited circumstances under which you as a grandparent can request formal visitation time with your grandkids. The city of Texas generally presumes that your child and their Co-parent should have the right to be able to decide who can meet their children and your grandchildren. The presumption is that parents always act in the best interests of their children and by denying you contact with them this is presumed to be in the best interests of your grandkids. You may disagree with this a great deal, but it is the reality that you find yourself in.
Say grandparent in Texas you can both request and be granted visitation or custody rights of your grandchildren under certain scenarios. The first of those scenarios is that at least one biological or adoptive parent of your grandchild has not had that parents’ parental rights terminated. Either your grandchild’s mother or father, biologically speaking, must still have conservatorships rights over your grandchild. Otherwise, you would not be able to pursue custody or visitation rights about your grandchildren. The reason being is that additional persons but the Texas Department of Family Protective Services would have custody.
We have already discussed with you the Texas practice that it is presumed parents always act in the best interest of their children. This is still additionally true when parents decide to deny you time with your grandkids. This may hurt you a great deal, but it is still the reality that a child’s parents may deny you access to the grandchildren just as easily as the child could have their contact with a neighbor or a friend denied by their parents. Grandparents like yourself must pursue a visitation or custody case wisely since there are limited circumstances under which you can be successful. It is not wise to file a Cassidy or visitation case regarding your grandchildren that are doomed from the start.
To overcome the presumption that your child or their Co-parent is acting in the best interests of your grandchildren, you would need to be able to show that by having possession or access to your grandchildren denied, your grandkids have had their physical health or emotional well-being impaired to a great extent. This can be a significant ask for mini grandparents. It can be difficult to be able to show that your grandchild is physically harmed as a result I’m not spending time with you. Absent a long-standing and consistent amount of contact between you and your grandchildren it can also be difficult to show that your grandchild’s emotional well-being has been significantly impaired, as well.
Finally, assuming that one of your children is the parent of your grandchild, you must further show that your child has been incarcerated during the three months preceding the filing of the petition, has been found by a court to be incompetent, has passed away, or does not have actual or court-ordered possession of or access to the child. One of these circumstances must be in play for you to pursue a case for visitation or possession of your grandchildren. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that for most families none of these factors are currently ongoing. This means that as a grandparent the circumstances under which you may pursue visitation or custody rights over your grandchildren are limited. This should not necessarily cause you to lose hope in your ability to file a visitation or custody case on behalf of your grandchildren but should give you some pause to consider what your options are and what degree of research you need to conduct to determine the circumstances of your family.
Timing is everything in a grandparent case
What the preceding pieces of information should tell you is that as a grandparent the burden falls almost entirely on your shoulders in terms of being able to prove that it is in your grandchild’s best interests that you have conservatorship or visitation rights over them. The Texas family code allows you to pursue a visitation or custody case, but it is an uphill battle. Any family law attorney worth their salt will tell you this honestly and you should be careful about listening to any lawyer that tells you it is a walk in the park or simple to file in a win this type of case. Filing a grandparent rights case is one thing but winning it is much different. Consulting with one of the attorneys at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan is a good place for you to start. Our office will tell you the information that you need to make a wise decision where you can gauge whether it is worth the time, money, and stress commitment that a family law case involves.
Importantly, you need to be aware that family courts require that you as a grandparent provide physical evidence to prove that your grandchild is endangered at the time your case is filed. This means that you cannot simply get on the witness stand and provide court Statements on the witness stand about how you heard or how someone else heard that your grandchild was being abused, for example. Rather, there must be tangible evidence for a judge to consider whether you should be granted custody or visitation rights. For example, if your child abuses drugs or alcohol and then abuses your grandchild physically then providing emergency room records or urgent care reports on the abuse can count for physical evidence. Photographs of your grandchild’s bruising, or other types of injuries would suffice, as well.
Another situation could involve your child or their Co-parent allowing unrelated adults into the household who are not looking out for the best interests of your grandchild. Unfortunately, some parents indeed engage in risky behavior like drug or alcohol abuse in the home. This type of behavior shows not only an extreme lack of judgment but can significantly harm the well-being of your grandchild. Copies of police reports where police have been called to the home or a photograph of the home itself with drug paraphernalia scattered about cut also act as the physical evidence that a court would need to grant you are petition for visitation or custody rights.
If nothing else, I hope that you have seen that the timing involved in a grandparent rights case is extremely important. You may have had a valid grandparent rights case to file six months ago but the circumstances have changed in that six months you may not have a valid case currently. Therefore, it is extremely important for you to be knowledgeable of the factors and circumstances of a family law case and to be able to file your case at the appropriate time to best ensure that you have an opportunity to win.
All of this begins and ends with having a good relationship with an experienced family law attorney in Texas. A grandparent rights case is especially tricky in terms of filing and proving the case. Even if you have the best of intentions and love your grandchildren to a great extent you cannot necessarily be expected to be able to proceed in a case like this on your own without any experience having done so previously. The advice and perspective of an experienced family law attorney can be extremely important to you and your spouse.
Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the information contained in this blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce, child custody, or a grandparent rights case. Thank you for your interest in our law office and we hope that you will join us again tomorrow as we continue to share relevant and interesting information and perspectives on the world of Texas family law.
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The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it’s important to speak with one of our Spring, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our divorce lawyers in Spring, TX, are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, handles Divorce cases in Spring, Texas, Cypress, Spring, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County, and Waller County.