Grandparents and child custody in Texas

toddler with grandparents looking at a tablet

Did you know that more than 10,000 Texan children are living with grandparents and other relatives as a result of parental drug or alcohol addiction? This means that thousands of families are dealing not just with complicated health and familial issues, but legal issues as well.

If you are a grandparent who takes care of your grandchildren, or if you feel it would be in their best interests if you were to take care of them, then you should understand some basic elements regarding grandparents’ rights, visitation and custody.

The difference between visitation and custody

Visitation is different from custody. Visitation is an order that gives someone the right to have time with a child. Custody orders give someone the rights and responsibilities of a parent, including the right to make medical, cultural, educational and residential decisions for a child.

Texas statutes allow courts to authorize visitation for grandparents under certain circumstances, including parental divorce, abuse, neglect, incarceration or death. If grandparent visitation is in the best interests of the child, then the courts can authorize such an arrangement.

Grandparents have a much more difficult time securing custody, especially if one or both parents do not authorize the arrangement. However, it is not impossible. If the parental situation presents a danger to a child’s health (which could be the case when a parent struggles with a drug addiction) and the grandparents have had a significant relationship with the child, then the courts may award custody to grandparents.

Getting support as non-parents

Sadly, the circumstances under which a grandparent or other non-parent may seek custody or visitation are rarely positive. As such, it is important for people in this situation to have support. This includes the support of a community and others in similar situations, as well as the support of an attorney who can help people confront the complexities of the legal system.

Source: KXAN, “Prescription drug abuse leading to more grandparents raising grandchildren,” Steffi Lee, Nov. 24, 2017