Protecting Your Grandchild: How a Family Law Lawyer Can Help You Get Grandparents’ Rights
Protecting the best interests of a child is the main goal of any judge or court ruling. These days, more grandparents are finding themselves taking care of their grandchildren in one way or another. Having grandchildren is a wonderful experience, and the bond between grandparent and grandchild is special. However, certain circumstances can separate the two, and a family law lawyer may be required to help the grandparent obtain or maintain their rights. As a grandparent, you have the right to be involved in your grandkid’s life, as long as doing so is in their best interests.
Family Law Lawyer Issue: Visitation vs. Custody
The most common right a grandparent seeks is the right to visit their grandchild. For many families, this isn’t much of an issue. But some cases can force a grandparent away from their grandchild, leaving a hole in both of their lives. This often happens when parents get divorced, or one parent dies and the other receives full custody. When a grandparent is unjustly separated from their grandchild, a family law lawyer can help them regain their rights.
For many, the right to have regular access to their grandchild is enough. In other cases, however, a grandparent may have the right to file for custody. Gaining custody of a grandchild is a lot more complicated than gaining visitation rights. However, if the parent is unable to provide a safe and stable environment, filing for custody could be the best way to keep the child safe and sound.
Following the Supreme Court ruling in Troxel v. Granville, the state of Texas believes it is the right of the parents to decide who has access to their children. However, parents do not always act with their children’s best interests at heart. Grandparents can seek both visitation and custody rights, but the law limits the circumstances that grant it. To seek grandparent rights, the following must be true:
- At least one biological or adoptive parent maintains the parental rights for the child.
- Or the grandparent can prove that the withholding of their visitation rights would physically or emotionally harm the child. This proves that denying access is not acting in the child’s best interests and that the parent has no right to exclude the grandparent from the child’s life.
- The child’s parent must be a child of the grandparent, and one of the following must be true:
- A parent has been recently incarcerated, up to three months before the petition is filed
- The parent was proven in court to be incompetent
- A parent has died
- The parent does not have possession or access to the child, either in actuality or through a court order
As long as the grandparent can prove these to be true, they can seek visitation or custody rights.
Proof of Best Interests
The most difficult part of securing grandparent rights is proving that you’re acting in the best interests of your grandchild. The burden of proof is heavy, and the aid of a family law attorney can help you find and organize the evidence you need. The court requires physical evidence at the time of filing. Proof of abuse, incarceration, or drug and alcohol use may help the grandparent make their case.
When it comes to gaining grandparent rights, timing is critical. If you suspect that your grandchild’s physical or emotional wellbeing is at risk, it’s imperative to call an attorney and the proper authorities as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more harm could come to your grandchild. Allowing your grandchild to stay in a dangerous situation with your knowledge can also harm your case when seeking visitation or custody.
Working With a Family Law Lawyer
Separation from your grandchild is a difficult and emotional time. It’s understandable to feel angered and upset but working peacefully with the help of a lawyer is the best way to find a resolution. A lawyer can help mediate the problem, even finding a peaceful compromise without the need to get the court involved. However, if you feel your grandchild is in danger or the parent won’t budge, it may be time to file a formal petition.
Sarina Hager has practiced as a family law lawyer in Texas for over twelve years, and her knowledge of the court systems and family law date back even further. As a mother herself, she understands the importance of acting in a child’s best interest. Whether you’re seeking visitation rights to maintain your grandchild’s emotional wellbeing or are fighting for custody to protect their physical health, the Hager Law Firm is here to help. Call us today at (903) 466-0001 to get your rights and your grandchild’s wellbeing secured.