Grandparents can be an important influence on a child’s life, but grandparents are sometimes pushed out of a child’s life after a divorce, which is precisely when a child may need the emotional support that grandparents can so often provide.
When a parent prevents visits from grandparents, it can be painful for both the grandparents and the child. However, grandparents should know from the start that if they seek visitation privileges through the Texas courts – over parental objections – they almost certainly will not succeed.
What is the Law Regarding Grandparental Rights?
The law does not provide grandparents with “independent” child visitation rights, in Texas or in any other state. A grandparent only has rights “through” one or both of the parents, and the courts, generally speaking, may not grant grandparental rights over the parents’ objections.
However, if you are a grandparent in Texas, and if you have evidence and concerns that your grandchild’s safety and well-being may be at risk, you should arrange at once to discuss those concerns with San Marcos family law attorney David C. Hardaway. He will advise you regarding the best way to proceed.
Why Don’t Grandparents Have Legal Grandparental Rights?
Grandparents in the United States have no independent grandparental rights as the result of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that is already several decades old. In Troxel v. Granville, a case out of Washington State, the Court struck down a state law that allowed grandparental visits over the objections of a custodial parent, provided that a court considered the visits to be in the child’s best interests.
The justices cited the basic and absolute right of parents to make decisions for their children, including the right to decide who may be in contact with their children. The courts, however, are not a concerned grandparent’s only option.
In fact, resolving the matter away from the courtroom – through formal mediation – is often more effective. Mediation may help parents and grandparents find common ground and come to an agreement that satisfies all parties involved. A San Marcos family law attorney can advise a grandparent about how to initiate the mediation process.
May a Grandparent Seek Child Custody?
If they are convinced that it is in the best interests of the child, grandparents may seek custody of the child, which is called “conservatorship” under Texas law.
A grandparent may request a “managing” conservatorship if there is proof that a child’s living conditions are a significant risk to the child’s emotional or physical well-being, or if both parents, a sole surviving parent, or a child’s custodian agree that grandparental conservatorship is in the child’s best long-term interests.
Before You Take Any Legal Action
When grandparents go to court regarding any matter of family law, the court takes a wide range of factors into consideration. Before attempting to take any legal action, a grandparent should consult first with an experienced family lawyer and carefully consider that lawyer’s insights and advice.
The future of your relationship with your grandchild will be determined if you seek conservatorship or visitation rights through the courts. You cannot make the wrong choices. Call the Law Offices of David C. Hardaway at 512-805-6613 to schedule a consultation, and he will explain all of your legal options and their potential consequences.