Child custody involving grandparents
While grandparents can have a large and important role in a child’s life, they do not have a constitutional right to see their grandchildren. The Supreme Court case Troxel v. Granville decided that parents are the individuals with the “fundamental right” to make decisions about the care of their children. Grandparents do not have the same legal rights over the care of their grandchildren, and their rights are limited in comparison to those of a parent. However a lack of a constitutional right to visitation does not mean that grandparents don’t gain custody over their grandchildren in certain circumstances. In fact, more than eight percent of children in this country live with grandparents or other relatives instead of their parents.
Extreme example of Grandparent rights
In some states, grandparents are pushing the limits of science and the courts. The Roanoke Times reported a case of the parents of a child injured in a car accident petitioning the court to allow them to extract and store sperm for a later use; presumably to have a grandchild since their injured child did not survive the crash. The couple is pushing for the right to use science to preserve their family’s legacy. While this is an extreme example, many Texans also want to know the facts about custody and the rights of grandparents in the state of Texas.
What custody really means
If a parent gives their legal consent, a grandparent can assume a child’s care for whatever reason. But if the parents do not, there are several types of legal custody that a grandparent can obtain by petitioning the court to take over care of their grandchild. A custody order or guardianship order could be granted, giving the grandparent control over the child’s everyday care. The grandparent could legally adopt the grandchild, giving them complete parental control in the eyes of the law.
Why grandparents should seek an attorney
Child custody issues are difficult and complex in nature, and it’s a good idea for grandparents to obtain the assistance of an attorney. An experienced family law attorney can help with a number of procedures, including:
- Help you decide whether issues are better resolved in court, through negotiation, or in mediation
- Help in petitioning for custody
- Filing the necessary paperwork with the appropriate courts
- Represent you in court
- Communicate with the child’s parents about custody arrangements
Regardless of which route a grandparent may choose, the court will always be most interested in what outcome will be in the best interest of the child. While the presumption is that it’s always in the best interests of a child to be in the custody of their parents, if the court learns that the child will not be safe, custody can be awarded to grandparents.