As a grandparent, it only makes sense that you would want to spend as much time as possible with your grandchildren. But your child doesn’t want you to see your grandchildren for some reason. Do you have a right as a grandparent to visit with your grandchildren?
That’s the question we’re concerning ourselves with today. To answer it we’re going to need to look at what rights a grandparent has, as well as what rights they don’t. The answer to this question is only going to complicate things, so we’ll need to discuss what options are available when your children cut off access to your grandchildren. Finally, we’ll discuss the matter of custody and what can be done should your grandchildren be in a dangerous situation.
Do Grandparents Have the Right to Visit Their Grandchildren?
There is a lot of information about grandparents’ rights in Chapter 153 of the Texas Family Code. Unfortunately, this is written as a legal document and that means it can be quite confusing to sort through and grasp. That’s why we’re writing this in a much easier to understand language.
As a grandparent, you do not really have a right to visit your grandchildren. This may seem shocking but ultimately it makes sense if you consider it from a broader perspective than your own. You may want to see your grandchildren but your child doesn’t want you to and, as the parent, they have the final say in most cases.
The idea here is that a child’s parent will know what is best for them. This could mean not seeing their grandparents. If the parent is not acting in a manner that would harm the child, such as abusing them or neglecting them through drug use, then there is no legal ground with which to fight against this decision. The parent has the legal authority to decide whether or not the child will have a relationship with their grandparents.
Now, they don’t have the final say in every single case. If the parents are divorced, abusing or neglecting the child, incarcerated, incompetent, had their parent-child relationship terminated through a court order, or died, then a grandparent could be able to get visitation rights through the courts. Another example would be if the child has been living with the grandparent for at least six months.
What Steps Can a Grandparent Take When Their Children Cut Off Access to Their Grandchildren?
Unless there is a deeper cause for why your child won’t let you visit your grandchildren, such as abuse or neglect, there is nothing that can be done in a legal manner. However, this isn’t to say that grandparents have no options for righting this situation. Rather, it just means that they’re going to have to go about it in a different way.
Grandparents have some specific rights to visitation but the parent of the child has the superior right. So you could try to use the legal system to gain access but the courts are much more likely to side with the parent.
If you are cut off from seeing your grandchild then the best thing to do is stop and ask why. Were you trying to push your religious values on your grandchildren against the wishes of their parents? Were you shaming them for gaining weight or something else that unhealthy that a parent wouldn’t want to expose their children to?
Often, the answer to repairing the relationship with your child and gaining access to your grandchildren again is as simple as respecting their wishes. By figuring out what the issue is, you may be able to put this troublesome time behind you.
But, again, this is assuming that you were cut off from the parents and that they are taking care of their child appropriately. Not appropriately based on your personal beliefs but based on the law. If they aren’t then there are additional steps that a grandparent could take to be able to see their grandchildren and to protect them from the dangers their parents are exposing them to.
When Could a Grandparent Get Custody of Their Grandchildren to Protect Them From Harm?
Grandparents ending up with the custody of their grandchildren is a fairly common occurrence. In some cases it is due to tragedy while in others it is at the suggestion of the parents themselves. This most often occurs when a couple has a child while they’re very young and too inexperienced to be able to properly care for them.
But in some cases, a grandparent is going to have to fight, tooth and nail, in order to win custody of their grandchildren. In these cases, it is important to realize that this is not an easy process and that timing is extremely important.
When seeking visitation or custody rights of their grandchildren, grandparents must carry the burden of proof. They need to show to the court that it is in the child’s best interest to be taken away from their parents and given over to their grandparents.
Proving this is often incredibly difficult because the legal system is weighted in the parents’ favor. In order to win you need to show the court some physical evidence that shows that the child is in danger at the time that you filed for custody.
Some forms of evidence that may be acceptable are:
- Proof that the parent abuses drugs and alcohol
- Proof that the parent is incarcerated
- Poof that the parent is abusive towards the child
- Proof of the danger the child is in should they stay with the parent
You should not pursue this route until you have some proof, otherwise, it may only result in a failed legal battle that estranges you from the parents and pushes you even further out of your grandchildren’s lives.
Should I Approach an Attorney?
If you are a grandparent looking to pursue visitation or custody rights of your grandchildren then hiring an attorney is recommended. Because it is an attorney’s job to understand the legal system, they will be able to break down everything you need to know and make the whole process much easier to understand.