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When can Texas grandparents ask for visitation rights?

On Behalf of | Apr 9, 2024 | Family Law

Families often include members that extend past more parents and children. They also often involve numerous others, including grandparents. Those who are not in the immediate family of minor children often have limited rights under the law.

Parents generally have the right to expect access to their children and a say in their upbringing unless there is reason to believe such arrangements might endanger the children. Grandparents typically only have rights because parents grant them time with the children and the ability to communicate with them. When parents do not want grandparents around, their wishes usually determine what occurs.

Sometimes, grandparents in Texas can go to family court in pursuit of visitation rights when parents deny them access. When do grandparents have that option?

After a disruption to the family unit

Typically, grandparents only have the right to request formal custody in family court after changes in family circumstances. Usually, a divorce, a death in the family or the involuntary termination of one parent’s rights is the precipitating incident.

The parent who has control over the children may choose not to let them spend time with their grandparents anymore. In a scenario in which the grandparents have a pre-existing relationship with the child and the custodial parent denies them access, it may be possible to request grandparent visitation rights.

The Texas family courts prefer that grandparents work out conflicts amicably with parents whenever possible. Still, if a parent won’t act in the best interest of the children, then the courts might intervene. Grandparents generally need to prove that they have had a positive relationship with their grandchildren to ask for visitation.

Emails and text messages, photos from holidays and even thank-you cards could help establish a history of a positive relationship with grandparents. If the courts agree that the circumstances warrant a grandparent visitation order, they could require that the custodial parent give the grandparents time with the grandchildren or an opportunity to regularly communicate with them.

Taking legal action in pursuit of grandparent rights can lead to increased family conflict in the short-term future, but it may lead to positive outcomes for the whole family in the long-term. Grandparents who know when the law protects their relationship with their grandchildren may find it easier to assert their rights in a difficult family situation.