Biological grandparents have certain rights under Texas law for custody of their grandchildren. If a grandparent seeks custody of his or her grandchild to protect their safety, a grandparent can file a lawsuit for intervention in Texas if there is an existing court case regarding the child’s welfare.
The law favors custody for the biological parents, so it is not enough to show that you have a dispute or are simply missing your grandchild. A grandparent must petition to be appointed as conservator, or guardian, of that child. This type of case requires you to demonstrate to the court that:
- You are the biological grandparent;
- At least one parent has not had parental rights terminated; and,
- Not having access would significantly impair your grandchild’s physical health or emotional well-being.
If you are able to establish those elements, a grandparent may be awarded possessory conservatorship. Such a conservatorship will not give the grandparent the same rights as a parent, however, as you would not be able to make decisions regarding education, religion, healthcare, and other important aspects of raising a child. However, this grandparent intervention action allows you visitation rights.
Beyond possessory conservatorship, a court may name a grandparent as managing conservator. In this role the grandparent makes all the types of decisions a parent makes, and even allows the grandparents to receive child support from the parents.
To be granted powers as managing conservatory, you must prove the three elements mentioned above plus one of the following:
- Your grandchild lives in a physically or emotionally dangerous environment;
- The parent or legal guardian consents to your appointment as managing conservator;
- You have been caring for your grandchild in your home for six months or more, and this arrangement was interrupted within 90 days prior to filing a lawsuit; or
- Your grandchild and parent have lived with you for six months or more, and did so within the previous 90 days.
Elaine Berkeley has over 15 years’ experience dealing with complicated family law issues. If you are in the Woodlands, Conroe or the Houston area and seek to intervene or defend against an intervention, contact Hopkins Centrich to speak personally with a family law attorney.