There are many misconceptions about what grandparents rights refers to and how Texas handles these child custody cases. While Texas does recognize grandparents’ rights, that does not mean that grandparents automatically have the same rights to access to the children as the biological parents.

Only direct grandparents — meaning the parent of one of the child’s adoptive or biological parents — are able to file for custody of a grandchild or visitation access. At least one of the child’s parents must also still have active parental rights. The grandparents petitioning the court must also show that the child’s parent has been incarcerated for three months prior to filing the court petition, has passed away, has been declared incompetent by the courts or does not have access to the child.

Even in these situations, the grandparents’ petition for custody of or access to the child is not automatically awarded. The grandparents must meet the preponderance of evidence required by the Texas family code that not having access to or custody of the child will cause harm to the child physically or emotionally. Situations where the grandchild has been living with the grandparent, for instance, may have a better chance in the courts.

Cases involving grandparents’ rights where the parents do not want the grandparents to have access to the child are especially difficult as the court generally believes that parents have the right to socialize their children as they see fit. Anytime grandparents rights become an issue in a child custody dispute it is crucial to seek information from a knowledgeable source who can help you determine how the Texas laws apply to the case.