In a perfect world, loving and caring grandparents would enjoy unlimited access to their precious grandchildren - however, this world is far from perfect. Sadly, many grandparents find themselves struggling to gain any access or visitation rights to their grandchildren due to a variety of reasons, including family squabbles and divorce.
Because of grandparent concerns, several states, including Texas, have enacted laws the dictate when and how grandparents are able to establish visitation rights with their grandchildren. In Texas, these laws are particularly applicable in circumstances in which the failure to grant such grandparent visitation rights would harm the well-being of the grandchildren.
Texas law regarding grandparents' rights to access and visitation
As with any child custody of visitation dispute in Texas, the best interests of the child are closely examined. However, Texas law expressly recognizes a "parental presumption" that requires courts to assume that a fit parent acts in his or her child's best interests. Therefore, grandparents typically cannot intervene and seek access rights when a grandchild is well cared for and both parents object to the visitation.
Even so, if a significant event were to fracture the established family unit - such as one parent's death or incarceration - a grandparent could attempt to seek visitation rights with his or her grandchild. Specifically, Texas law states that an adoptive or biological grandparent can request access to a grandchild if he or she is able to show the court that the denial of "access to the child by the [grandparent] would significantly impair the child's physical health or emotional well-being."
Consequently, a Texas court may order "reasonable" access to a grandchild if a grandparent is able to prove that the denial of such access would impair the child's well-being - thus overcoming Texas' "parental presumption." However, the grandparent seeking access to a grandchild must also be able to show any of the following elements in regards to the child's parent (specifically, the parent who is themselves the child of the grandparents seeking access):
- The child's parent has been in prison or jail for the prior three months.
- The child's parent has been found to be incompetent by a court.
- The child's parent does not have court-ordered or actual possession or access to the child.
- The child's parent is dead.
As this article demonstrates, the laws surrounding grandparent visitation rights are quite complicated in Texas, and as such, this article should not be taken as legal advice. Nevertheless, given the complexity of grandparent visitation laws, not to mention the high legal burden, if you are a grandparent currently seeking access to a grandchild it is important to seek the counsel of an experienced family law attorney. A knowledgeable attorney can review the facts of your case and help outline your rights and options given your particular circumstances.
The amount of time it takes to complete a divorce in Texas will vary depending on a number of factors. However, there is a 60-day waiting period for a divorce in Texas, from the time divorce papers are filed to when the divorce can be finalized in court.
No two divorces are the same. Issues such as child custody, spousal support, or the division of property or debts can complicate the divorce process. If you are facing divorce, it is important to devote the time necessary to address all of the important legal issues. Having an experienced divorce lawyer to guide you through the process can prove invaluable during this time of transition.
In Texas, it is necessary to wait at least 30 days after the finalization of a divorce before getting remarried.
Texas is a community property state. This means that when it comes time to divide property or debts in a divorce, most property (with a few exceptions) acquired during the marriage is considered community property and is subject to division. Separate property, or property acquired before marriage or property designated to one spouse during the marriage, remains with the owner following divorce.
Once community and separate property is identified, the community property will be divided equitably.
When a divorcing couple has children, it is necessary to determine where the child will live and how his or her time is spent. In Texas, numerous factors are considered with determining child custody:
- The age of the child
- Where each parent lives
- The relationship between the child and each parent
- The physical and emotional health of each parent
- Other factors
Most importantly, the best interests of the child involved are always kept in mind when making this important determination.
Spousal support (or spousal maintenance) is not automatic in a divorce. Rather, the court considers a number of factors to determine if spousal support will be awarded, and if so, how much and for how long. Some of these factors include the length of the marriage, the earning capacity of each spouse, the educational history of each spouse, contributions in homemaking or child raising by a spouse who did not work during the marriage, and more.