San Antonio Grandparent's Rights Attorney
With a few rare exceptions, divorces and resulting custody battles over children in the marriage can be complicated and emotional affairs. The upheaval can take a considerable amount of time to sort out before everyone can move on with their lives.
When children are involved, without a doubt, the most complicated aspects of a divorce are child support, custody, and visitation rights. In all cases in Texas, this is driven by what is in the best interests of the children. Because the stakes are so high, making a strong argument for your rights is essential. In many cases though, this extends beyond mothers and fathers to include other family members, including the rights of grandparents.
Making The Case for Grandparents’ Rights
Grandparents often play an important part in their grandchildren’s lives. As such, the State of Texas has defined certain rights that grandparents have regarding relationships with their grandchildren in challenging family situations. This can be especially important in families where one parent or the other is deemed unfit for one reason or another. In a divorce, grandparents can apply for formal custody and visitation privileges when they can make the case that doing so is in the child’s best interests and one of the following circumstances is present:
· The parents are divorced
· One parent or the other abused or neglected the child
· A parent has been put in jail or prison
· A parent is found incompetent
· A parent has passed away
· A court order terminated the existing parent and child relationship
· The child has lived with the grandparent for at least six months within the 24 months before filing for custody or visitation.
A Few Other Important Things To Know
As you pursue visitation and custody rights, you should know that the United States Supreme Court has ruled that grandparents do not have a constitutional right to see or visit their grandchildren. Under normal circumstances, parents have the automatic right to decide the best interests of their children. Getting a court order can be accomplished, but a grandparent will need to make a solid case if they have been restricted from contact.
It should be noted that a grandparent cannot request visitation rights if the grandchild has been adopted by someone other than the child’s step-parent.
If you are a grandparent and your grandchild lives with you, you can seek custody. When you become a custodial parent, you can apply for child support from both parents who have a legal obligation to provide financial and medical support.
As you can gather, protecting the rights of grandparents in a divorce situation can be complex and will require expert assistance to ensure those rights are preserved. Before escalating any disagreements with family members, it is wise to seek the counsel of a skilled family law attorney such as George C. Ruiz to help define your rights and implement the best possible strategy for your situation.
The Law Office of George C. Ruiz serves clients in San Antonio, New Braunfels, Schertz, La Vernia, Seguin, Leon Valley, and other nearby Texas communities.