In some circumstances, child custody for grandparents may be necessary for various reasons. If a child’s parents divorce or are unfit to care for their child, a grandparent, or grandparents, can become the sole custodians of a child. This allows them to make legal decisions for the child. However, unlike the parents of a child, the grandparents of a child have limited rights as far as custody goes. Also, the grandparents will have to appear in family court in order to get these rights.
Grandparents and Child Custody Basics
Child custody for grandparents is dramatically different than the rights biological parents have when disputing the custody of a child in family court. In Texas, the mother of a child automatically receives sole custodianship over their child if they are unwed whereas neither fathers nor grandparents have this privilege. Fortunately, Texas law does have avenues grandparent can take to gain custody of a child, if they are biologically related.
Grandparents can gain custody of a child in a few different ways. The first is if the grandparents receive power of attorney from a child’s parents. After getting power of attorney from a parent, grandparents can take on the responsibility of caring for a child. However, the parent who gave the power of attorney can revoke the grandparent’s status at any time. This is the simplest method, but sometimes, parents aren’t willing to grant power of attorney to grandparents because of a caustic relationship.
Another method in which grandparents can become sole custodian of a child is by suing the parents in a family court. This is a managing conservatorship and is where grandparents file a lawsuit to gain the ability to choose a child’s home and school as well as religious instruction. Grandparents are able to sue for managing conservatorship in only two situations.
Grandparents can sue for managing conservatorship if a child’s home life is deteriorating and affecting their mental or physical state. It is also possible to sue if the parents of the child agree it would be in the child’s best interest for the grandparents to take care of them. In this case, suing is a mutual agreement between the parents and grandparents to hand over power to the grandparents.
Child Custody Intervention
In some situations, child custody can be obtained through intervention of an ongoing child custody cases started by a child’s parents or legal guardian. The purpose of an intervention is so that the grandparents can seek possessory conservatorship, which allows the grandparents of a child to be involved in a child’s life following a divorce or change of legal guardian. Alongside these rights, grandparents can also apply for visitation time, allowing them to see their grandchild regularly. Possessory conservatorship can only be sought if a child’s grandparent can prove that they are an integral part of the child’s life or that the grandchild’s life may be harmed due to a change in their sole custodian.
Child Visitation for Grandparents
Child custody doesn’t only include becoming the sole caretaker for a child. In many cases, grandparents just want to petition for visitation time when a child’s sole custodian changes. Grandparents usually receive visitation time by a court if they meet any of these criteria:
- a parent abused the child
- a parent is or was incarcerated
- the parent has died
- a parent is found to be unfit for childcare
- or the child has already lived with their grandparents for at least six months
However, though a grandparent may be receive visitation rights, that doesn’t necessarily mean the child’s sole custodian must follow them. Moreover, grandparents can’t receive visitation rights if anyone other than a step-parent adopts their grandchild.
Grandparents, Child Custody, and Court Proceedings
Child custody for grandparents is complex, but it gets even more so once their lawsuit goes to a family court. Whether a grandparent files for managing conservatorship or possessory conservatorship, the court rules on whether or not they are fit for taking care of the child. In Texas, this is based on several different factors for parents of a child seeking to become a sole custodian. However, for grandparents seeking either managing or possessory conservatorship, there are additional factors in play.
The court will factor in a child’s want to live with their grandparents. They’ll also look at the grandparent’s ability to parent the child as well as the stability of the grandparent’s home. Many courts even evaluate the relationship between the grandparents and the child’s parents. Alongside this, the court looks for evidence that the grandparents have been a significant part of a child’s life. If the status of sole custodian is granted to the grandparents, they can also file for child support through the family court system so they may easily support their grandchild.
Family Law Attorneys Can Assist Child Custody for Grandparents
Though knowing the basics of child custody for grandparents may help you understand your rights as a grandparent in Texas and how the right course of action for gaining child custody of a grandchild, it won’t help you get it done. Besides the basics, there are many other things to know. Also, the family court system can be a hassle to deal with without years of experience. Fortunately, a family law attorney at Illaraza Law can stand by your side.
Whether you need child custody, visitation rights, or are seeking child support, knowing where to start is difficult. These cases can be hard to win, especially as a grandparent. However, with the right legal advice and assistance, it’s possible to get child custody of your grandchild. Starting this process sooner than later is the best action to take when it comes to family court cases. Often times, these cases can be long, lasting many months or even years. Therefore, having someone who can stand in your corner and support your cause is necessary.