2210 views | 33 | Last updated on Sep 22, 2021 Family Law
Jonathan J. Bates, a Texas attorney, authored an article about grandparents' rights when it comes to custody and visitation of a grandchild in the October 15, 2015, edition of Texas Lawyer. He begins by stating:
In recent years, the courts and legislature have significantly reduced the rights of grandparents.
Regarding visitation — referred to as possession and access in state laws — he explains that a recent Supreme Court decision, Troxel v. Granville, led to a change in Texas law:
In Troxel v. Granville, the U.S. Supreme Court addressed a Washington state statute that permitted any person to petition for visitation at any time. The court found the statute to be “breathtakingly broad” and held that it inappropriately put the burden on the parent to disprove visitation. [...]
[The Texas Legislature] then amended the Family Code to create a new presumption that a parent acts in the best interest of the child and should be permitted to deny grandparent visitation if the parent deems that to be appropriate. This new presumption requires a showing of harm for rebuttal and eliminates many grandparents from consideration.
Regarding custody — referred to as conservatorship in state laws — he explains that state law sets out who has standing to file a lawsuit seeking conservatorship of a child:
The threshold question in a grandparent case is whether the grandparent has the necessary standing to be able to bring and maintain suit. Texas Family Code Section 102.003 sets forth a list of individuals with general standing to file suit seeking conservatorship of a child. §102.003 (a)(9) provides that an original suit may be filed by a person who has had actual care, control, and possession of the child for at least six months ending not more than 90 days before the date the petition is filed.
If you would like to discuss your situation with someone who may be able to help, try calling the Access and Visitation Hotline at 1-866-292-4636, available Monday through Friday. If you are over the age of 60 or receive Medicare, another option is the Legal Hotline for Texans at 1-800-622-2520.
For more information, see our research guide on grandparents' rights where we provide links to the law and other resources that may help.