Can grandparents sue for custody in Texas? The short answer is, “Yes,” but the burden of proof rests on the grandparents and is not easy to establish. The types of rights for which grandparents may sue are custody and visitation.
Custody rights are the legal rights and obligations with respect to assuming the full-time parenting and raising of minor children, usually defined as children under the age of eighteen. If parents are deemed to be a danger to their child, for example, or are not willing to voluntarily surrender custody to the grandparents, the court may make a ruling based on the best interests of the child. Typically, grandparents are allowed to petition the court for custody if the child has already lived with them for at least six months and they file within 90 days of the date the child moved out of their home.
While it is unusual for grandparents to be awarded custody over one or both parents, the grandparents may sue for primary or sole physical custody of the child if there is an emergency situation that threatens the health and safety of the child or they have evidence that the child would be better off living with them than the parents. Some situations that may prompt grandparents to sue for custody include:
• The parents are themselves underage
• Neither parent can afford to support the child
• Both parents have a documented history of abusing or neglecting the child
• The parents voluntarily choose to give custody of their child to the grandparents
Visitation involves a court-established schedule of days and times that the grandchildren are to spend with their grandparents. In some states, like Texas, the law does not provide grandparents with automatic visitation rights, but they can be granted access if the court is petitioned, neither parent objects, and there is no reason to believe that such visits would be detrimental to the child’s physical, mental, or emotional health and well-being.
If you are a grandparent and believe that it would be in your grandchild’s best interests to have regular visits from you, or even move in with you on a full-time basis, you should contact an attorney with experience in family law. Be prepared – you may be facing quite a challenge when it comes to gaining custody of your grandchildren and will need all the legal advice you can get.
Article provided courtesy of Robert Reid McInvale, a Child Custody Attorney in Houston.
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