What About Grandma and Grandpa?

By Dana Floyd

No one can dispute the important role grandparents play in a child’s life. However, with today’s changing family structures, grandparents can often be shut out of participating in a child’s life. To address such concerns, all states have enacted some type of grandparent visitation laws with varying degrees of requirements.

Overall, Texas law presumes that a parent acts in a child’s best interest. In other words, the law presumes that if a parent does not want a child to have time with a grandparent, then that parent is acting in the child’s best interest. As a result, the court will only counteract such parental choices in certain situations. However, if specific requirements are met, a court can authorize grandparent visitation.

First and foremost, any grandparent visitation must be in the child’s best interests and must overcome the presumption that a parent acts in the best interest of their own child. Specifically, a grandparent must show the court that denial of access to the child would significantly impair the child’s physical health or emotional well-being.

Additionally, a grandparent seeking access to a grandchild must be the parent of a parent who does not have actual possession of or access to the child themselves. In other words, the parent of the child must be deceased, in jail, found incompetent or for some other reason does not have actual or court-ordered access to the child. However, a grandparent may not request access to a child if both parents are deceased or have had their rights terminated by the adoption of the child.

Clearly, the Texas statute is very limited, but all hope is not lost for grandparents trying to maintain a relationship with their grandchildren. As always, it’s important to speak to an attorney about each specific situation to find a legal solution to your particular problem.