A messy divorce in Texas can affect not just the spouses, but also their children and sometimes their children's grandparents. For example, in an effort to get back at their ex, a parent may refuse to allow their ex's parents (the child's grandparents) visit the child. This can cause a lot of pain for all involved. When this happens, what are the grandparents' rights?
In general the U.S. Constitution does not carve out any rights for grandparents to visit their grandchildren. This is because it is up to the child's parents to determine what is in the child's best interests.
Similarly, Texas law does not automatically provide grandparents the right to visit their grandchildren. However, if Texas grandparents are being denied contact with their grandchild, they may petition the court for visitation rights. However, requesting and obtaining a visitation order is easier said than done. In Texas, a court will only hear a grandparent visitation case if the child's parent is in jail, deemed mentally incompetent by a court, dead or not currently residing with the child.
Providing one of these conditions is met, the court may only award grandparents visitation if it is in the best interests of the child and at least one other requirement is met. These requirements include: Either the child's parents must be divorced; there must have been instances of parental neglect or child abuse; a parent is in jail, legally incompetent or dead; a court has terminated the parental rights of one of the parents; or the child has resided with the grandparent for at least half a year.
As this shows, it is not necessarily easy for grandparents to obtain visitation rights with their grandchild. However, in certain circumstances it can be done. Therefore, grandparents who wish to move the court for visitation rights may first want to contact an attorney, to better understand how to proceed.