Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for adult children to estrange themselves from their parents. Because estrangement is a relatively silent epidemic, there are no hard and fast numbers for how many families are estranged, but the vast number of resources available to parents and grandparents alike suggest that the number is far greater than many would assume. That said, if you are estranged from your child and his or her partner, know that you are not alone. Also know that while no law in the world can bring you and your child back together, there may be something you can do about reconnecting with your grandchildren.
Grandparent Visitation Rights
Before you get your hopes up, know that Texas courts will always rule in favor of what is in the best interests of the child. Oftentimes, this means siding with the parents. However, in many instances, being barred from seeing one’s grandparents is detrimental to a child’s emotional and even physical wellbeing. To prove that is the case with your grandchild, you must prove at least one of the following elements to be true:
- Your grandchild must have lived with you for at least six months; or
- If the child lived with you for six months but does not live with you now, the move out must have taken place within 90 days of your filing the suit; or
- A court named you legal guardian; or
- You can prove that the child is in danger when in the custody of his or her parent or parents (explained below); or
- Both of the child’s biological parents (or sole surviving parent) agrees that the child should live with you.
If you cannot prove any of the above to be true, chances of winning visitation rights of your grandchild are slim to none.
Gaining Custody as a Grandparent
While grandparents may have a difficult time gaining visitation rights in Texas, the state does not bar them from gaining custodial rights. In order to win custody of a grandchild, the grandparents must prove that the child’s needs are not being met. Some instances in which this might be true include:
- The parents are drug abusers and the grandparents were the only stable figures in the children’s lives;
- One parent was deemed mentally unstable and the other is out of the picture;
- One parent was incarcerated and the other parent is out of the picture;
- One parent passed away and the other is out of the picture; or
- One parent is abusive, the other parent is aware of that fact, yet the non-abusive parent has not taken measures to remove the children from the home.
Unfortunately, anything short of abuse, neglect, abandonment, or unfit parenting is not enough to establish grandparent custody rights.
Factors Influencing the Court’s Decision
Unless you can prove that the child’s emotional and physical well-being is at stake, chances are that the courts will rule in favor of the parents. However, the child’s parents’ ability to care for the child are called into question, the court will review the following factors:
- What the child wants;
- What the child needs, both emotionally and physically;
- Who is most fit to care for the child;
- Whether or not the child is in danger when in the care of his or her parents;
- The parents’ conduct (or misconduct); and
- Any other factor the judge believes to be relevant to the case.
Where to Turn When You Want to Gain Grandparent Visitation Rights
Winning rights as a grandparent is not going to be easy, but if you believe that your grandchild’s emotional or physical well-being is at stake, the battle may be a worthwhile one. A Dallas grandparents’ rights attorney can help you show the courts why your presence in the child’s life is necessary and why, if applicable, the child’s parents are unfit to raise him or her. Call Udeshi Clark and Associates to discuss your legal options today.
(image courtesy of Kevin Gent)