The United States Supreme Court has ruled that grandparents do not have a constitutional right to see or visit grandchildren, based on the general presumption that parents have the right to decide who has contact with their children. However, every state has some form of grandparent visitation law. The Texas Family Code Chapter 153 covers grandparents law in Texas.
Grandparents Rights in Texas
Texas grandparents can usually visit their grandchildren at any time, as long as the parent consents. However, problems may arise if parents restrict grandparents' visitation or contact with their grandchildren. Since grandparents do not have a legal right to see their grandchildren, some may choose to apply for a court order to get visitation. This applies to both biological and adoptive grandparents.
Grandparents Law in Texas
Generally, grandparents' rights in Texas cover custody and visitation. While the law does not give a grandparent absolute rights to visitation, grandparents may file for custody or visitation if they believe it is in the child's best interests. The court may grant their request if it finds that it is in the child's best interests, and if at least one of the following applies:
- The parents are divorced.
- The parents abused or neglected the child.
- The parent has been incarcerated, found incompetent or died.
- A court order terminated the parent-child relationship.
- The child has lived with the grandparents for at least six months.
A grandparent may not file for visitation if the grandchild has been adopted by someone other than the child's step-parent, for example if both parents died or put the child up for adoption.
If your grandchild already lives with you, you may wish to seek custody. If you are granted custody, you are entitled to apply for child support. Both parents are legally obliged to provide financial and medical support for their children and are required to pay it to you if you have custody. For further information, contact the Child Support Division at (800) 252-8014.
Reporting Grandparent Concerns
If you think your grandchild is being abused, neglected or is in dangerous situation, you have a legal duty, as a grandparent, to report it to Texas Child Protective Services. You can report abuse or neglect by telephone at 1-800-252-5400 or via the website. A person who reports abuse in good faith is immune from civil or criminal liability, and the name of the person making the report remains confidential.