As a grandparent, your house is supposed to be a fun and happy place where your grandchildren can come and just enjoy being kids. However, what happens to those visits if the parents decide to divorce? If your grandchildren are already living with you, and you are providing them with food and other necessities because the parents are struggling, can you obtain legal custody over them? What rights do you, as a grandparent have under Texas laws?
Under Texas law, as a grandparent, you can seek visitation privileges with your grandchildren. When a couple divorces, children can benefit by maintaining relationships with both sides of the family, regardless of how their parents feel about each other. If the custodial parent tries to stop you from seeing the children, then you may be able to request visitation to continue that relationship.
In cases other than divorce, for you to be able to request visitation, there must also be one or more of the following situations present:
- The child has lived with you for six months or more
- The child's parent has died, been incarcerated or found incompetent
- The child has been neglected or abused
- The parent-child relationship has been terminated by a court order
However, you should know that if someone other than a stepparent has adopted the child, then the law prohibits you from asking for visitation.
If your grandchild is living with you, you have the right to apply for custody of the child, particularly if it is in the child's best interest. If you are granted custody and become the custodial parent, you also have the right to seek child support from the parents. Both mother and father are required by law to provide medical and financial support for their children, and they are required to pay it to the custodial parent.
The choice to seek custody of your grandchildren is not one you should take lightly. You should sincerely evaluate whether you are physically, mentally, financially and emotionally able to care for young children. If you don't have the resources to care for the children, it may be better for them to be adopted by a couple who does.
If you have questions about your rights as a grandparent regarding your grandchildren, it may be beneficial for you to consult an experienced attorney to determine the next steps. Whether you are concerned for their safety, or you simply want to spend time with your grandchildren, an attorney can help you understand your rights and how to pursue them.