Although it is not common for grandparents to gain custody of their grandchildren, certain circumstances make it a viable option. In all cases, it must be in the child’s best interest for their grandparents to be their primary caregivers. Otherwise, the court will decide to keep the child in the custody of their parents. What do you need to know about gaining custody of your grandchild?
When do courts grant custody to a grandparent?
You may be granted custody of your grandchildren if:
- The child’s parent is incarcerated
- The child is being abused or neglected
- The parent is deemed incapable of caring for their child
- The parent has a history of substance abuse
- The child’s parents are deceased
How difficult is it to gain custody of a grandchild?
A court wants to keep a child with its parents whenever possible. Even if you have a great relationship with your grandchild, you must be able to prove that the child’s biological parents are not fit to parent.
Courts may be more willing to grant temporary custody of a child. In temporary custody, you would only have custody until the parent is able to meet certain care conditions. For example: you may have custody while the parent is in jail, but the parent would have custody restored to them once they are done serving jail time.
Is litigation the only option?
If you are concerned that your grandchild is not being properly cared for, you do not have to immediately turn to litigation. Litigation may cause a tremendous amount of damage to your relationship with the child’s parent. A gentler approach to gaining custody can be achieved through mediation.
During mediation, a professional will help both parties come to a custody agreement. For mediation to work, the parent must be willing to give up custody of their child.
Can a grandparent share custody with a parent?
Yes, you can make shared custody agreements with parents outside of court. In this case, both parties must agree to grant the grandparent legal or physical custody of the grandchild. If you have legal custody, you would make important decisions about your grandchild’s life including: their education, medical care and religion.
If you are seeking custody of your grandchild, you should consult an attorney who can help you navigate Texas’ custody laws and advocate on your behalf.