Dallas-Forth Worth Child Custody Lawyers
Child custody cases are usually decided between the child’s biological parents. However, we are seeing an increase in grandparents seeking custody and visitation rights with their grandchildren. Grandparents and grandchildren share strong bonds with one another and it is best to maintain these bonds if possible. Texas grandparent custody law is complex and involves sensitive issues. It is best to have a lawyer who understands how grandparent custody laws work. At Patrick West Law Firm, we know the law and have the experience necessary to obtain the best possible results for your case. We also try our best to ensure that your grandchildren are protected as much as possible from the stress and anxiety of a custody battle.
Grandparents’ Rights In Texas Custody Matters
Grandparents’ rights vary from one state to another. In Texas, a grandparent can file a lawsuit seeking possession and access or conservatorship of their grandchild. In order to establish rights to custody, visitation or conservatorship, the grandparent must first show to the court that they have “standing” to pursue their case. Standing is a legal term meaning that a person has a right to bring a particular claim in court.
In Texas grandparent custody cases the grandparent must prove in court that their visitation or custody would be in the best interest of their grandchild. This simply means that court-ordered access to the grandparents would positively promote the child’s growth and development.
In addition to showing that visitation or custody would be in the child’s best interest, the grandparent must also allege and show that one of the following conditions exists:
- The child’s current situation is likely to impair their physical health or emotional development
- The grandparent can show the court that denial of the right to visitation would significantly impair the child’s physical health and emotional development. In these situations, the grandparent must also show that one of the child’s parents has been incarcerated, has been found incompetent, is dead, or does not have actual or court-ordered custody of the child.
If the grandparents can meet these conditions, then they may have the standing to bring claims for custody or visitation of their grandchildren. In Texas, a biological parent has a recognized constitutional right to raise their children. The parent’s constitutional right includes the ability to decide with whom their children will associate. A parent’s rights are not absolute and may be lost in situations like those described above. When a parent forfeits their constitutional rights to exclusive care of their children, a grandparent is free to bring a case for custody or visitation.
In addition to the scenarios already mentioned, there are other times when a grandparent can successfully petition the court for custody of their grandchildren. These include:
- The child in question has lived with their grandparents for at least six consecutive months or has previously lived with their grandparents for six consecutive months and has only moved out within 90 days of custody petition being filed.
- The grandparent has previously been named as the guardian of their grandchild by order of the Court.
A final option for grandparents is to seek a managing conservatorship of their grandchildren by filing the appropriate action with the court. Under Texas law, a managing conservatorship is given to grandparents in situations where the grandchild’s development is being affected by poor living conditions or otherwise unfit parents. A managing conservatorship may also be granted by the court to grandparents if both biological parents can agree.
There are many reasons why grandparents may seek custody or conservatorship of their grandchildren. A grandparent who has a possessory conservatorship can seek child support from the child’s parents. Also, a grandparent may want to make or assist in making important decisions, including health care access, educational and religious decisions which affect the major areas of their grandchild’s life. A custody or conservatorship order can be invaluable in establishing the rights of grandparents to play an important role in the lives of their grandchildren.
Whenever possible, a grandparent and grandchild should be allowed visit and spend quality time with each other in the midst of a child custody battle between parents. A good attorney understands this special bond and does everything within their power to legally maintain the bond. Attorney Patrick West fights to protect grandparents’ rights to custody, possession, and conservatorship.
Contact An Experienced Dallas Child Custody Attorney
If you are a grandparent seeking to establish your legal rights to be in your grandchild’s life, please contact us to discuss your situation. During the consultation, we will discuss your options and how we can achieve your goals. From our office in Fort Worth, we serve surrounding Texas communities including Dallas, Irving, Richardson, Frisco, McKinney, Rockwall and Garland, as well as Grayson, Collin, Dallas, Tarrant, Denton and Rockwall Counties.
To set up an appointment, please contact us at 817-332-2600 or complete our online contact form. We look forward to hearing from you.