Grandparents’ rights and child custody in Texas

Sometimes, situations will occur in families that make grandparents feel they should try to get custody of a grandchild. Texas does recognize grandparent rights, but in order for a grandparent to receive custody of a child, certain factors must first apply, and the requested custody must be in the best interests of the child.

If a grandparent wants to file an original custody motion, one of several circumstances must first exist. In certain cases, the child must have lived with the grandparent for six or more months. If the child has moved, the motion must be filed within 90 days. Original petitions are also allowed if the grandparent has been named as the child’s guardian by the court or if the surviving parent or both of the parents agrees that the child may live with the grandparent. Finally, if the grandparent is able to prove that the child’s current living situation endangers the child’s health, safety or welfare, courts may grant custody.

In the event a different person has already filed a custody case, the grandparent may move to intervene. In order to be granted custody in this situation, the grandparent must prove that he or she has had a significant amount of past contact with the child as well as that the people who are currently caring for the child are doing so in a manner that is hurtful to the child.

Additionally, the child’s parents must either be divorced, one parent deceased, incarcerated or found incompetent, their parental rights terminated or the child must meet the six-month living requirement. It is admirable when grandparents want to step in to take on the responsibilities of their grandchild’s custody. Grandparents who are in one of the discussed situations may want to consult with a family law attorney who has experience in this area.

Source: Texas Attorney General, “Grandparents’ Page”, accessed on Jan. 19, 2015