Texas is one of the strictest states for grandparents seeking visitation with their grandchild. In 2005, Texas adopted far stricter standards after the Supreme Court ruling in Troxel v. Granville. The state now holds the view that they have no place intervening in family affairs so long as the parents of the child are fit to care for them. So what does this mean for grandparents?
When Can A Grandparent Not Seek Visitation?
Before you learn what you will need to prove to request visitation, you should know if you even are able to request visitation through the court.
Grandparents may not request visitation if:
- Both parents of their grandchild are dead or have had their parental rights terminated.
- The child has been adopted by anyone, except for stepparent adoption, or an adoption is in progress.
- Both parents of their grandchild have relinquished their parental rights to child services or any other organization acting as a managing conservator of the child.
- The grandparent’s child is the grandchild’s parent who still retains their parental rights.
In these cases, you will not be able to sue for visitation rights.
In What Circumstances Can a Grandparent Seek Visitation?
In Texas, the court is reluctant to interfere with the decisions of the parents of the child, unless there is good reason to do so. The court generally holds that, provided the parents are fit to raise the child, the court should not intervene on behalf of the grandparents. There are some circumstances in which the court can be prompted to make a decision on the matter.
Grandparents may request visitation if it is in the child’s best interest and:
- The parents of the child are divorced.
- The parents have abused or neglected the child.
- One parent has been incarcerated, found incompetent, or has died.
- A court has terminated the relationship between the child and one parent.
- The child has lived with the grandparent for at least 6 months.
What Is the Harm Standard?
In 2005, Texas adopted the Harm Standard for making decisions on child visitation for grandparents. What this means is that grandparents must demonstrate that the child will suffer considerably if they are unable to see their grandparents. This can be a very strict standard to meet, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
Expert testimony has been a successful tool in recent cases. Unfortunately, it can be a challenge to obtain expert testimony when the grandparent does not have access to their grandchild, school, or medical records. Your attorney may ask for a preliminary hearing, in which a professional evaluation can be requested for the purposes of expert testimony. At this hearing, your lawyer can also request relevant records to support your case.
Get Help Today! Call Our Katy Family Law Attorneys – (281) 764-6087
As a grandparent, it can be devastating to be denied the chance to participate in your grandchildren’s lived. At the Adams Law Firm, we have more than 35 years of collective experience to help you fight back. Our Katy family lawyers can help you protect your rights as a grandparent.