The custody process can be complex, emotional and confusing. One of the most common questions asked is if someone besides the child’s parent can ask for custody. This is particularly true in the case of grandparents, who often play a major role in the lives of their grandchildren and can provide for their needs.
There are many factors that a Texas court considers when a grandparent requests full custody, or some visitation time with the child. For example, if the child’s parents are married, grandparents will likely have a harder time obtaining custody or visitation. Similarly, if a child has been adopted by someone other than a stepparent, grandparents may not petition for custody.
Grandparents may have a higher chance of getting custody if the child’s parents are divorced; however, if there is already an existing custody order in place between the child’s parents and no evidence of child abuse or neglect, grandparent custody time could be denied. Sometimes this decision is made for practical reasons, such as there simply not being enough time for each party to spend significant time with the child.
Best interests of the child
In Texas, if a grandparent files a custody petition, the court will first determine if grandparent custody is in the best interest of the child. There is no specific definition of “best interest of the child.” Rather, the court may look at several factors, such as if the grandparents can provide a stable environment for the child, to determine if custody is in the child’s best interest.
Once custody is determined to be in the child’s best interest, one of several other conditions must be met. Grandparent custody can be granted if a parent is deceased, in prison or declared incompetent. Additionally, if a parent’s legal rights to the child have been terminated or the child has lived with the grandparents for at least six months within the last two years, grandparents have a higher chance of receiving custody.
It is important to have guidance and support through the custody process. Speaking with an attorney experienced with Texas custody laws can be a tremendous help for grandparents in Beaumont and throughout southeast Texas who have questions about their custody rights and the custody process.