Grandparents’ Rights Attorney Fort Worth TX
What happens when a parent will not allow a grandparent to see their grandchild? Do grandparents have any rights to their grandchildren in Texas? The law has clear answers to these questions and any other concerns you might have about your rights to visitation and custody as a grandparent. At the Law Office of J. Kevin Clark P.C., our goal as lawyers is to help those through difficult times. The legal system is not always friendly, and we can walk you through the nuanced language of the law and help you assert your rights in court. We are always prepared to take your case as far as it needs to go in your favor.
OVERCOMING “PARENTAL PRESUMPTION”
The United States Constitution and Texas law have long recognized and closely guarded the right of a fit parent to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children without interference from others or the government. This is rooted in a presumption that fit parents know how to raise their children and act in their children’s best interest, and this right cannot be disturbed without proving the parent is unable to act in the children’s best interest. This is referred to as the “parental presumption” in custody cases.
In order to protect this parental right, the courts have limited the people who may request access to a child and require that the party requesting access overcome the parental presumption. In short, parental presumption grants parents the superior right to decide who has access to their child, and this right cannot be overridden unless otherwise shown that the parent is not acting in the child’s best interests.
GRANDPARENTS’ RIGHTS TO VISITATION AND CUSTODY
In certain circumstances, a grandparent may petition the court for visitation, such as if:
- – a parent passes away;
- – a parent abused or neglected the child;
- – a parent is incarcerated for at least 3 months;
- – a parent has had their parental rights terminated in a court order; or
- the child resided with the grandparent for at least 6 months.
As long as the grandparent can overcome the presumption that the parent is acting in the child’s best interest, they may request visitation access. Note that to show the court that the parent is not acting in the child’s best interest, the grandparent must prove that the child’s physical and/or emotional well-being would be significantly impaired if the grandparent is denied the right to visit with the child.
A grandparent may also ask the court to name them a conservator and order periods of visitation for that grandparent if they have had actual care, custody, and control of the child for at least 6 months. This means the grandparent was making decisions for the child regarding education and medical care and provided the day-to-day care for the child and the child’s parent allowed the grandparent to make these decisions on their behalf. After showing the court that they have had care, custody, and control for the child, the grandparent must then show that not allowing visitation with the child would significantly impair the child’s physical and/or emotional well-being.
Note that typically, parental presumption is not applied in modification cases, only in the original divorce or custody case. However, a recent decision by the Texas Supreme Court in In re C.J.C. held that the court must apply the presumption that a fit parent, not the court, determines the best interests of the child in any proceeding in which a nonparent is asking the court to name them a conservator of the child or grant them visitation over the objections of that parent. As a result, in order to exercise their visitation and custody rights as grandparents, the requesting grandparent must: (1) be in one of the above listed situations, and (2) prove the fit parent isn’t acting in the child’s best interest when denying the grandparent visitation.
Questions about asserting your grandparent rights? Contact the Law Office of J. Kevin Clark P.C. online or at 817-348-6723 for a free initial consultation to discuss your legal options in your Fort Worth case today.