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Child custody and grandparents' rights in Texas

In the busy lifestyles of many Texas parents, extended family -- such as grandparents, uncles and aunts -- play an important part in the lives of their children. Strong bonds are often formed between children and extended family members. While the fundamental legal presumption is that a parent should have child custody and not family members, it is not uncommon for an extended family member to disagree. In certain instances, a family member will take legal action to obtain conservatorship or visitation rights to a child.

If one parent -- biological or adoptive -- has parental rights of a child, a Texas family court may award a grandparent access to, or reasonable possession of, a child. However, the grandparent will have to convince the court that having access to the child will be in the best interest of the child. He or she will have to show that denying access will be detrimental to the emotional or physical well-being of the child.

A grandparent may seek conservatorship if the child has lived with him or her for a minimum of six months. Other circumstances where such an application may be considered include those where:

  • The child's parents are divorced
  • A child is abused or neglected in current household
  • A parent is incarcerated
  • A parent is deceased
  • A parent has been found incompetent, and a court-order terminated the parent-child relationship

A Texas family court will not allow grandparents access to grandchildren who have been adopted by another person that is not a stepparent, or if an affidavit exists where both parents assigned conservatorship to another person. This area of family law is complex, and many grandparents who are concerned about current child custody arrangements of their grandchildren choose to retain the services of an experienced and competent family law attorney. He or she will explain the grandparents' rights and assist with the legalities and procedures required in filing such claims in a court.

Source: grandparents.about.com, "Texas Grandparents' Rights", Susan Adcox, Nov. 12, 2014

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