Getting Custody of Grandchildren in Texas

Texas, like most states, uses a “parental presumption” in child custody determinations. The “parental presumption” means that, without a strong showing to the contrary, the family court judge will make custody determinations based on the principle that it is a parent’s right to decide who a child lives with or spends time with, barring a situation where the parent is unfit or that the parent’s decision endangers the emotional or physical well-being of the child.

There are, however, circumstances in which a grandparent can beat this parental presumption.

  1. Parental consent. A child’s parents can execute a power of attorney form authorizing the grandparents to care for the child and make financial decisions on behalf of the child.
  2. 6 month/90 day rule. A grandparent can file a lawsuit requesting a custody determination in the grandparent’s favor if the child has lived with the grandparent for at least six months and either still lives with the grandparent or moved elsewhere fewer than 90 days before the grandparent filed the custody lawsuit.
  3. The child is being hurt. If the child’s living conditions are hurting him or her, or if the people the child live with are hurting the child, then a grandparent may file a custody lawsuit regardless of the 6-month/90-day rule. The grandparents must present strong evidence that the child is being hurt currently. Evidence of past abuse or neglect will not be strong enough evidence in most cases. For example, if the mother was previously a drug abuser, but can prove she has been clean, then the court will be unlikely to remove the child from the mother.
  4. Both parents are absent. If both parents are absent, due to incarceration, abandonment, or death, then a court may award guardianship to the grandparents. If the grandparents are named the guardians of the child, then the court will also award custody.

Visit the Grandparents’ Page at the website of The Office of the Attorney General of Texas for more information and resources related to grandparent custody and visitation.

Contact Attorney Kevin Buchanan for Answers to Questions About Grandparents’ Custody Rights

Kevin Buchanan is a Dallas attorney offering family law clients skillful and experienced representation. He places a strong emphasis on fairness, and on treating all clients with dignity and respect. If you have questions about your rights as a grandparent to custody or visitation, he would be pleased to review your circumstances and offer his opinion. To schedule a private consultation, fill out the online intake form or call (214) 378-9500.

Tips for Texas Fathers Who Want Custody of a Child

Tips for Fathers who Want Child Custody

  1. Texas family law judges make decisions about child custody and visitation (often called possession and access in Texas) according to a standard known as the “child’s best interests.” On a basic level, this means that a divorce court judge is not going to agree to change a custody agreement solely because the existing custody or visitation agreement is inconvenient for one of the parents.
  2. Family courts presume that a child is best served by having a relationship with both parents. This means that the divorce court judge will be inclined to order joint custody or generous visitation time with the other parent in cases where sole custody is awarded. The parent who believes the other parent should not share custody or should have limited visitation or parenting time must present factual evidence to support the claim that the child, in this particular case, is not best served by equal access to both parents.
  3. The father’s past and current relationship with the child is very important. A Texas family law judge is highly unlikely to grant equal child custody to a father who does not currently have an active relationship with the child. Similarly, a father who has not regularly exercised his visitation rights in the past is unlikely to succeed with a request to increase visitation or shared custody.
  4. Family law judges are prohibited from showing a bias against the father in custody determinations. However, family law judges are reluctant to interfere with a child’s existing relationship with his or her mother if that relationship is stable and does not put the child in actual physical, emotional, or developmental danger.
  5. Custody battles are expensive and exhausting. Whenever possible, work out your custody and visitation agreements with your child’s mother without getting embroiled in a full-fledged custody dispute. If you can agree by having conversations directly with one another – great. If you can communicate in writing to come up with an agreement – great. If you can work with a neutral third party like a family law mediator – great. All of these options are better, in almost all cases, than asking a judge to decide who should have custody and what the visitation plan should look like.

The Texas Young Lawyers Association publishes a pamphlet called Kids in the Crossfire: Helping Parents Understand the Impact of Divorce.” It offers suggestions for how separated or divorced parents can work together for the benefit of the children they share.

Contact Kevin Buchanan for Answers to Questions About Fathers’ Custody Rights

Attorney Kevin Buchanan is a Dallas attorney offering family law clients skillful and experienced representation. He places a strong emphasis on fairness, and on treating all clients with dignity and respect. If you have questions about fathers’ child custody rights, he would be pleased to review your circumstances and offer his opinion. To schedule a private consultation, fill out the online intake form or call (214) 378-9500.

 

About the Firm

Kevin Buchanan & Associates, P.L.L.C., are a Dallas based civil litigation firm that handles a variety of cases, including personal injury, product liability, and business disputes in many jurisdictions throughout the United States.


Our firm recently negotiated a $1.25 million dollar settlement for the family of a man who died as a result of a head-on collision with a wrong-way driver.

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