You may have seen the fun fridge magnet, “Grandchildren are the reward you get for not strangling your teenagers,” but what if your family is facing difficulties and your rights to see your grandchildren are in jeopardy? While the United States Supreme Court does not acknowledge a grandparent’s right to see or visit grandchildren, Texas allows grandparents to get court-ordered visitation in certain circumstances.
Court-Ordered Visitation for Grandparents
In most cases, grandparents can visit their grandchildren whenever they like – with parental approval. Nevertheless, conflict can arise when parents object to visitation. Most of the time, the court agrees with decisions parents make for their children. If a decision is not in the child’s best interest, however, you may be able to get a court order.
Grandparents can file a visitation case if a parent is incarcerated, mentally incompetent, deceased, or not currently living with their child. To be granted court-ordered visitation, you must prove visitation would be in the child’s best interest and show that one of the following conditions exist:
- Child abuse or neglect
- Incarceration, incompetence, or death of one parent
- A court-terminated relationship between the child and one of the parents
- The child has lived with the grandparent for at least 6 months
These steps and requirements only apply when you want to visit your grandchild. If you would prefer to obtain custody of your grandchild, the legal process only becomes more difficult. Courts in Texas and throughout the United States prefer to keep children with their biological parents whenever it is in the child’s best interest.
SAPRC and Temporary Authorization for Care
If you wish to pursue custody of your grandchild, you may file a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (SAPRC). If the court is already involved in the child’s life via another court order, you will have to file to amend that order instead. You can still use a SAPRC if your grandchild is under a family violence protective order.
If you are concerned about the safety of your grandchild and fear they are being abused or neglected, dial 911 in case of emergency, or call Child Protective Services at 1 (800)-252-5400.
Another option is to request Temporary Authorization for Care of Minor Child. Please note that this Authorization only applies if you have been caring for your grandchild in your home for at least 30 days.
The rules for Suits Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship are available in Title 5 of the Texas Family Code, and you can find more information about grandparent’s rights via Texas Access and the Texas State Law Library.