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Grandparents and child custody rights

In Texas, grandparents as well as parents may apply for child custody, and some grandparents may see the need for doing so during the divorce of the child's parents. This may be the case if the grandparents feel the child is unsafe with the parents.

Courts lean toward awarding custody to biological parents when possible, but if parents agree to sign custody over to grandparents by power of attorney or if grandparents file a successful court case, they may get custody. Grandparents may file an original lawsuit to start the process of obtaining custody, or they may intervene in a suit if a custody case is already in progress.

However, they can only file the original lawsuit if they can demonstrate that they child may be hurt, if they are already guardians, if whoever has legal custody of the child agrees the grandparents should have it or if the child lived with the grandparents for a minimum of six months. In the latter case, the child must still live with the grandparents or have left there within the last 90 days. The court will then consider a number of factors to decide in the best interest of the child. This includes weighing the child's desires and considering the child's safety.

A grandparent may wish to seek custody of a grandchild if the father is incarcerated and the mother is struggling with a drug addiction. The grandparent might wish to consult an attorney because custody laws dealing with grandparents' rights can be complex. A family law attorney can assist in building a case that the child is in a home that is not safe and that it is in the child's best interest to live with the grandparent.

Source: TexasLawHelp.org, "Grandparents' Rights", November 12, 2014

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