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Do grandparents have visitation rights in Texas?

In the absence of a court order, the laws of the state of Texas do not give grandparents the right to continuing contact or visitation with their grandchildren. There is a presumption that parents are to determine who is allowed access to their children, because parents are presumed to act in their children's best interests. Only with compelling evidence may grandparents gain the legal right to see their grandchildren.

The U.S. Supreme Court has stated that the Constitution does not establish a right to visit or see grandchildren. In order to gain such access against the wishes of the parents, grandparents must first convince a court to hear their case. Typically, Texas courts will not hear these cases unless the parents are deceased, declared mentally incompetent, incarcerated or not sharing a residence with the children.

If the court agrees to hear the case, the analysis will turn on the best interests of the child, which is heavily fact-specific. At a minimum, grandparents are required to demonstrate that the child was neglected or abused by the parents, that the child has been under the grandparents' care for at least six months, that the relationship between a parent and the child has been judicially terminated, that the parents are divorced or that one of the parents has been ruled incompetent, put in jail or died.

If the child has been legally adopted after being put up for adoption by the parents or after the deaths of the parents, the grandparents do not have a right even to file a petition for visitation. Those who are interested in the specific rules and regulations may choose to contact a family law attorney for an examination of the facts of their situation. An attorney may be able to help grandparents determine their rights under the law or assist with the drafting and filing of the legal documents required to begin visitation proceedings.

Source: Findlaw, "Grandparents' Visitation Rights in Texas", September 07, 2014

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