Grandparents hold a special place in the hearts of most people—kids and adults alike. Some even provide a safe haven when a parent or legal guardian is unable to properly care and provide for grandchildren. If you’re a Texas grandparent who wants to fight for legal custody of a grandchild, buckle up. The battle may be worth taking on but you’ll need to be prepared both emotionally and financially. The following are four things you need to know about adopting a grandchild in Texas.
Texas law does allow grandparents to adopt grandchildren
That’s right. The state of Texas does recognize grandparent’s rights to custody,https://www.thetxattorneys.com/articles/the-basics-texas-grandparent-rights known as primary conservatorship in Texas, as well as visitation rights. These are referred to as grandparent’s rights cases or three degrees of consanguinity cases.
Adopting a grandchild usually isn’t easy
If the grandchild’s parent or legal guardian agrees to terminate their relationship with the child, then getting custody of your grandchild could be relatively straightforward. Unfortunately, many parents won’t voluntarily relinquish parental rights.
If that’s the case in your situation, the burden will be on you to prove the child’s emotional health, physical safety and welfare is impaired to the point of endangerment. You’ll also need to prove that your adopting the grandchild is in the best interest of the child.
The grandparent’s burden of proof is also a very strict standard, and you’ll need to provide physical evidence that the child is endangered at the time of filing. If the parent is incarcerated, abuses drugs or alcohol, is abusive to the child or endangers them in some other way—and you can provide evidence of this—you may have a case. However, separating parents from children is something the Texas family courts are very hesitant to do.
Timing is key
One area where grandparents often get into trouble is when they know their adult child isn’t a good parent but they wait too long to do anything about it. For example, say the adult child is a drug addict, she goes through rehab and the grandparent returns the child to the parent. That grandparent can’t go back a month or two later and now say the adult child is a danger to the grandchild.
The court is going to wonder, “If you thought the child was in danger, why did you return her to the parent?” You need to file to terminate the parent’s rights and seek adoption when the egregious behavior is occurring, otherwise, Texas will likely say you don’t have standing (the right) to file a lawsuit in your case.
Adopting a grandchild can get expensive
Along with the fees you pay your personal attorney to handle the adoption and termination of your adult child’s parental rights, you will be responsible for other fees related to the case. This may include fees for background checks, a home study and the social study evaluator who investigates you, your finances and the environment you’ll provide for the child.
Depending on the county where you file, you may also need to pay fees for an amicus or ad litem attorney who is appointed on behalf of the child. All of these expenses are on you, so you’ll have to decide whether it’s financially feasible for you to pursue child custody of your grandchild or not.
It’s also worth noting that you may have other legal avenues aside from adoption that can be taken to protect your grandchild. A family law attorney experienced in grandparent’s rights can explain these options to you.
Want to learn more about grandparent’s rights in Tarrant County, Texas?
Our founder Justin Sisemore would be happy to review your case and give you honest advice. He’s successfully represented many clients seeking to adopt a grandchild and knows it can be an uphill battle for many grandparents. Justin will also be straight with you about whether or not your case has merit and the likelihood of success.
To schedule a confidential, one-on-one consultation with Justin, contact our Fort Worth law office at (817) 336-4444 or visit our contact page to connect with the Sisemore Law Firm online.