How Third-Party Possession and Custody Requests Are Handled (Ep. 16)

Gaining custody of a child as a third party may be in the child’s best interest, but that doesn’t mean it will be easy to attain. Even grandparents and close relatives have limitations to gaining custody. 

In this episode, Justin Sisemore and Andrea Jones discuss third-party custody requests and the process behind them in Texas. They dive into the who, when, and how of filing for parental responsibility and the limitations of rights as a third-party custody holder.

Justin and Andrea explore:

  • How a biological parent risks losing custody 
  • When can a non-parent file for custody and why they may need to wait before filing
  • The limitations of legal rights for third parties to retain custody of a child
  • The limitations of grandparent rights when it comes to grandchild visitation
  • And more!

Connect with Justin Sisemore

Connect with Andrea Jones:

Read the Show Transcript

[00:00:00] Nobody wants to end up in family court, but if you do, you want an honest, experienced family law attorney by your side to help minimize the stress, mental anguish, and legal costs that divorce and custody matters. Bring Welcome to in your Best Interest. Texas divorce attorney and entrepreneur, Justin Sisemore of the Sisemore Law Firm entrepreneur, Andrea Jones, freelance writer Mary Maloney, and guests share insight on what to expect and how to handle family law matters, the changing landscape of family law and living the entrepreneur’s life.

[00:00:36] Now onto the show. In instances where biological parents are out of the picture or they pose a physical or emotional threat to a child, third parties may want to step in and care for the child. While it isn’t unusual for grandparents to seek temporary or permanent custody of a grandchild, aunts, uncles and siblings also make similar requests.[00:01:00] 

[00:01:00] In today’s episode of In Your Best Interest, the panel will shed light on how third party possession and custody requests are handled in Texas. Thanks for joining us for this episode of In Your Best Interest. I’m Mary Maloney, and today, attorney Justin Sisemore, entrepreneur Andrea Jones and I’ll be tackling the topic of third party possession and custody issues in Texas.

[00:01:24] So Justin, before we discuss who can petition the court for temporary or permanent custody of a child, can you share some insight on the circumstances that would put biological parents at risk for losing custody of their kids here? Sure. So there’s, there’s issues of abandonment. Obviously drug and alcohol abuse, substance abuse, uh, family violence.

[00:01:46] You generally see circumstances where child protective services is engaged in some form or fashion. And, and that that generally leads you to, uh, the emergency protection provisions and the family code. That are [00:02:00] enumerated to set out, uh, when a third party can step in or have standing. Um, there are, uh, monthly requirements as far as how long for abandonment in the statute.

[00:02:11] There are there are, there are cases that back up what constitutes a serious, immediate question. It is very challenging as, as everyone knows for third party to step in. And those are generally the. The areas we see. So, substance abuse, physical violence, abandonment, those are your most common areas, uh, that we see in family law.

[00:02:32] Can you explain what abandonment means? I, I don’t think everybody’s aware of what that means. Yeah, so the abandonment is not just, Hey, my, you know, niece or nephew is living with me and I’ve been caring for the child alongside. Um, it is, it is an actual abdication of parental responsibility. The family code has changed over time for how long that provision, um, or period time period occurs.

[00:02:58] And. [00:03:00] Obviously if there’s immediate danger the question then becomes uh, what is this serious, immediate question? What rises to the level of that, um, or what is truly an abdication of parental responsibility? You know, my, my niece is living with me. I’ve been caring for the child. She goes off to work and has her social interactions and doesn’t come home, uh, for periods of time.

[00:03:23] Is that, does that rise to the level. And, and, and my response to that is sometimes, usually it is truly a turnover of the parental responsibilities, the enrollment in school, uh, the taking to and from the doctor. All of the parental decisions have been Completely transferred from the third party over into their what we call someone related within three degrees of consequ, uh, for the abandonment statue to kick in.

[00:03:51] So, like I said, that that could be a really challenging issue because you could have been doing all of the heavy lifting as a cousin, niece, nephew, [00:04:00] uh, grandparent. And then all of a sudden, you know, the parent decides they want to step up for the day, uh, or the week or the month, and, and now you’re left with this.

[00:04:09] Well, what happens if we revert back to the old? Or what if we are reverting back to the old now of, me having to do all the heavy lifting and all the caretaking? And so that does become a challenge. When you’re deciding as both the client and the lawyer, um, on when to pull the trigger, because if you sh, if you fire off the shot too early, uh, before you’ve reached the level of abdication or parental responsibility, or before it’s a serious media question, the courts will pour you out and now all of a sudden, you know, it’s, it’s.

[00:04:40] It really alienated the relationship, so you don’t know what’s going on. They generally take the child somewhere else. Um, and you, you, you really lose your ability to care and control for the child. So you touched on, um, the three degrees there, and I won’t even try to say sanguinity. Oh, I did. [00:05:00] Yeah. It’s a hard word, but any, so you do have to, in order to file for custody as a non-parent, you have to show that you have standing to file for a lawsuit.

[00:05:11] In the first place in Texas. So can you talk a little bit about how that works? Yeah. So the standing and consequent, and Mary, I know you can spell it. Uh, it took me a long time to say it. Um, but the, the standing issue, um, is, is one that allows a party to bring a case in the first place. It’s no different when we talk about grandparents, um, or third parties that are related within three degrees of sanguint.

[00:05:35] i.e. aunts, uncles, grandparents, moms, dads So three degrees of familial separation, um, stepparents those issues, that, that gets a little bit more dicey. And, and the goal, I think from a policy perspective is that to preserve the familial unit, right? So it’s the same thing. We talk about presumptions, um, and best interest of children for bio parents.

[00:05:58] There are some of those. [00:06:00] Same connotations when it comes to three degrees of sanguine so that we keep the family unit intact. You know, child Protective Services is challenged with the role of looking to the family first because obviously we want to preserve the, the natural nature of the familial structure, uh, which can be really challenging.

[00:06:19] Of course, when you are just one degree out or you’re the step. Sibling or stepparent or whatever, by three degrees of consequent by all intents and purposes, but the statue really carves out that, that notion, um, so that you don’t have a bunch of lawsuits, uh, being filed by third parties. And there’s, there’s some real teeth to the, the familial structure.

[00:06:41] Um, it puts burdens not only on the, on the parties filing it, but also the protective units that are assigned out there to care for children. So it gives them a guide point to look to the family first, and, and that’s why when we go back to the standing issue, I think that’s why the policymakers came up with this in the [00:07:00] first place is look, we gotta have a line drawn in the sand about who can file for best interest of a child and care and control of a child, because obviously one of the most fundamental constitutional rights that we have is the right to life, liberty, pursuit of happiness.

[00:07:13] And one of those in that enumerated rights is the right to raise your kids as you see fit, um, and not have some third party given their opinions of, of as to how that should be done. So, is there ever a situation where a stepparent or even like a close friend say they’ve been caring for that child, I mean, really doing everything that for that child and the, those, the bio parents stepped out the picture, is there ever an opportunity for those folks to actually try to get custody or visitation or possession?

[00:07:49] Yes. And it, it really tracks the. The situation when you’re dealing with like foster, uh, foster children or scenarios, um, where, [00:08:00] um, a child has been left in the care and control of another fair period of time. You know, when the Department of Family and Protective Services steps in, um, they really have good oversight, um, and, and a large, to a large degree, a sense of, um, I don’t like to use the word control, but they have a lot of control and power in these situations.

[00:08:19] And so generally what we see is when a third party’s involved or uh, a step family member or something like that, you usually have Child Protective Services involved. I often will advise engaging Child Protective Services. Because not only do they assist you, uh, or they should assist us. Not all, not all workers do this, by the way.

[00:08:41] Uh, there’s many, many good ones out there, but there’s some ones that just, you know, they, they just, they’re so inundated with, with day-to-day emergencies that it’s really hard to, um, have them be expected. To have the resources to step up in these regards. But once they do, uh, the reason why I engage them is it makes it easier from [00:09:00] an evidentiary perspective to show what you need to, to the court from an evidence perspective.

[00:09:05] It makes it easier to have a third party come in and say, Hey, we put this safety plan in place and, um, you know, this, this mother or father is not complying, uh, with the safety plan. And here’s the measures of help that we’ve offered, uh, whether it be substance issues or anger management or you know, some type of parenting or psychiatric or psychological services.

[00:09:28] If, if you have a third party step in, just like when we do with counselors and child custody cases or a ad litem attorneys or amicus attorneys, it’s just a lot less of the he said, she said. And because the burden of proof is so high when you’re dealing not only with three degrees of consequent, which is a very, very high burden, uh, when you’re dealing with, you know, the, the unrelated adult It is very challenging to show the quote, abdication of parental responsibility.

[00:09:59] You’ve [00:10:00] almost gotta have to the degree of like a power of attorney, um, where those roles have been completely transferred over to a third party. And that’s really hard for people to just kind of lay in limbo land without. Child Protective Services or somebody stepping in and saying, you can do these things.

[00:10:16] So that’s why we see Child Protective Services generally engaged in third parties that are not related by three degrees of consequent. So you had, you had talked about that presumption on Justin, about it being in the best interest of the children, um, specifically that for the biological parents when possible to be their conservators of their children.

[00:10:37] So, it’s a really tough hurdle for third party. Third party parties to overcome that hurdle. Can you talk a little bit more about how that works? Yeah. I, I, I have, I, I, we’ve talked before in some of our blogs about the concept and notion of two of my least favorite family law cases, uh, on the planet. Uh, candidly, one [00:11:00] of them almost made me switch careers.

[00:11:02] It was a situation where grandparents and third parties, Have cared for a child as their own, uh, for a long, long period of time. And in the grandparents situation that case, and I’ve had ’em go both directions and they, these cases can change tune in the midst of litigation. But in that situation, the grandparents, uh, they were actually the maternal grandparents.

[00:11:25] They, they cared for the child. For a period of about seven years, and mom was Mia. By the way, they were the maternal, so they were the mother’s, uh, grandparents, uh, or mother’s parents. And so the dad was starting to get back in the picture a little bit, um, and they started to let the dad take the child for a, a period of month in the summer or so.

[00:11:46] Um, and then he just decided, I’m not gonna give him back. Um, so imagine you have a child, he raises your own for seven years from infancy all the way to a seven year old, and then, um, you’re trying to do the right thing and get the parents reengaged and, [00:12:00] and dad comes along and says, Hey, uh, you know, I’m ready to step up to the mantle.

[00:12:04] And you may have that. Feeling like, uh, I don’t, I don’t really think that now is the time to do that. Had they consulted with an attorney, uh, before that, they would’ve, they would’ve gotten orders in place that would’ve at least provided for the return of the children. And in this situation, uh, the courts erred on the side of the parental presumption, meaning that, well, grandparents, since you thought that it was okay for the kids to go with the dad for the month, uh, there’s no serious, immediate question.

[00:12:35] No danger. Uh, so by the way, you have no rights. And I, I just, I, I can’t stomach that. You know, these kids were in a situation where I mean, just by common sense approach, if a child is raised by someone for seven years and you rip that child outta that environment, That in and of itself should create the serious, immediate question to the emotional health, safety, and welfare of a child.

[00:12:59] But what we [00:13:00] saw here was no, you have to have the evidence upfront when you file the case and the evidence upfront when you file the case has to be put in an affidavit. And you have to have third parties step in and, you know, you haven’t been taking the child to counseling and third parties and all this stuff that you need for the affidavit, and you can’t just state in there.

[00:13:20] Well, the separation would create the serious, immediate question you have to show the the significant contact in addition to the serious, immediate question. And the significant contact part is pretty easy. But the serious, immediate question part is hard. And so when you get back to the burden, uh, I think that when you’re looking at the parental presumption, back to your question, when you’re looking at that parental presumption, it just shows you how strong that parental presumption is.

[00:13:46] And it’s gone back and forth, right? The scales have tipped from Trel, uh, which is a grandparent’s rights case, uh, which, you know, where they were starting to. The grandparents were starting to step in and really, uh, abuse their, uh, authority as a grandparent. [00:14:00] And then, you know, it reverts over these possession schedules, uh, where, you know, we’re giving third parties, uh, possession and access where they’ve had that constant contact.

[00:14:09] But back to that parental presumption. If, if you, if you are trying to overcome that, the burden is so high, uh, that it’s really important when you’re caring for a child, uh, for a period of over a year, um, and you’re doing all the heavy lifting. It is, I can’t. Stress how crucial it is to at, at, at that real time moment before the other parties step in or before you’re starting to, um, use some self-help, as I call it.

[00:14:39] Go consultant attorney and figure out what the rights are and get those locked in. Early on, and then obviously over time, if that parent steps up and is doing the right thing, then you can, you can agree to release, um, some of the, uh, provisions in the order. And candidly, the courts will take ’em away from you anyway, whether you agree to release ’em or [00:15:00] not, if the parents are doing the right thing.

[00:15:01] Similar, similar, like what we have in, in, in parents having kids and not being married. Similar situation, right? You need to get everything in order just. For the potential of something going the wrong way. So for grandparents, in this case, you say have a consultation with an attorney. Once you take custody of the child and have the child with you, at least after a year, you should get.

[00:15:24] Yeah, and I mean, I, I, I think it’s good if, if you’re, if you’re strategically planning, you know, the familial relationship with, with some, you know, with a. Your son, daughter or whatever, and she’s trying to get on her feet, or he’s trying to get on his feet. Um, you know, it’s just like when you set up a business or anything else, it’s important to get things in writing up front so that you know what these issues are.

[00:15:47] Because the reason why those two cases that I talked about, um, pulled at my heartstrings so much was that there was no plan. And the right thing to do was not to just throw that kid, uh, away [00:16:00] from the grandparents, but you know, the, the other side of that coin is I, I expect, and all lawyers I hope, expect for the courts to follow the law.

[00:16:08] And, you know, from a legislative standpoint, when they make these laws there’s, there’s not a lot of grandparents that are up there talking about these issues. It’s usually, um, some cases that some lawyers have seen and they’re talking with their legislatures, uh, on these issues. And, you know, the other, the other situation, and not to bounce off topic, but that other, the other case was where the guy thought he was the father and raised the child as his, his own.

[00:16:33] Um, and come to find out, Some guy contacts, uh, the mother on Facebook and says, this child has a rare birthmark and now all of a sudden at three years old, this guy has raised this child as his own. And then you get an amicus attorney stepping in saying, well, parental presumption, best interest of the child.

[00:16:50] Let’s let this other guy come in. And, I mean, that’s just, it’s just unbelievable to most people when they hear these, these horror stories. But I’ve seen it. Time and [00:17:00] time again in my practice, and these are honestly the cases where I spend the most time up front. You can actually look at our website.

[00:17:05] There’s a, the, one of the couples that we, we got custody for. Um, I told ’em in the very beginning it, it’s not gonna happen. Um, and I’m, I’m obviously not psychic, uh, but I told ’em it’s, this is a very, very high burden. And that was an example of a case that changed in the middle of the case. The, the parents really, really made a very bad decision.

[00:17:25] And then candidly, they came back and made a good one, which is, hey, We’re not the best fit, and that’s just really rare for people to be that self-aware. Um, and so, yeah, like Andrea said, it’s, it’s critically important to to, at least in the planning phases upfront, if you’re gonna have a child come live with you, uh, to consult the attorney, it’s also really important not to fire off that shot, uh, with an attorney who doesn’t understand what the provisions are.

[00:17:52] Prematurely. Um, so really talk through that with them. Okay, well what’s the plan? When should we file? Why should we wait? If they’re not telling [00:18:00] you to wait, that’s a big red flag. If they’re not telling you how to try to reconcile and get the parents on board, that’s a big red flag is you wanna show that you’re supportive.

[00:18:09] You wanna show that you’re not gonna prevent the parents from having access unless it’s a danger or unless there’s a really heightened level of scrutiny there. Um, and so there’s a lot of provisions that go in and that tracks the case law. And that’s really important cuz the statute just says serious media question, right?

[00:18:25] But it tracks the case law to determine what that is. And those cases get thrown up monthly and you gotta know what the new provisions are. So Justin, I wanted to touch on. You know, what the legislature can do because I know you’re very passionate about this and you and, and your discontent with the Texas laws in regard to the third parties, can you talk about a, a little bit about how you think the laws should be changed to benefit, obviously the kids first, but these third parties that, that really have an interest in the best interest of the children?

[00:18:59] I, I think at [00:19:00] very minimum, I, I do understand completely the concept of wanting to be able to shut down a party from filing a lawsuit if it’s frivolous. You know, we’ve all heard the, the stories about the McDonald’s case and all these other issues that, that come up in civil litigation, and they, they kind of seem to be the hot button issue for tort reform and for changes in the family code and various other areas of law.

[00:19:24] But the reality is most people don’t do the behind the scenes homework and look at what all was involved in these decisions, in these case laws and, and how they actually come into law. So to answer your question, with respect to the family code, what frustrates me immensely about these grandparents’ cases, uh, or third party cases, Is that you can’t, once you file the case, you can’t go what we call marshal the evidence afterwards.

[00:19:51] Right. And that makes sense. Um, just from a fundamental standpoint. Cause you don’t want somebody firing off a lawsuit and then going and conducting a bunch of [00:20:00] discovery and saying, oh, see. I told you there was a serious problem. Now they should have that evidence upfront before you file the case. But when you’re dealing with an issue where you can clearly prove that a child has resided primarily or exclusively, uh, with a third party relative.

[00:20:17] You should, at very minimum, in my opinion, be able to have an amicus attorney or an ad litem or a third party come in and provide the, the evidence of what the child has done. Um, courts don’t generally like to put children on the stand and say, Hey, well, where do you live? Do you love your mom? Do you love your dad?

[00:20:35] I mean, that’s just not a very comfortable conversation for a child to be involved in. So we allow third parties when you have. You know, a parent two parents that are separating, we allow third parties to come in and help with that. On the face of the affidavit, in my opinion, when you have a, a party stating under the penalty of perjury that a child has resided with them and there’s been an abdication of parental responsibility, you then in my opinion, should [00:21:00] be allowed or afforded the opportunity for a counselor to, or a, a child psychologist to come in and interview with the child and figure out what the separation from that child, what the effects of that will be.

[00:21:13] And some courts will allow that. Some parties do that by agreement without objection, but if you get good lawyers, and I, I’ve been on the defense side of this too, right? So where we try to shut down the third parties, if you get in situations where you have good lawyers that know how to shut this down, I.

[00:21:29] You just really prevent the evidence from coming before a court, and I don’t like any law that prevents evidence from coming before a court. You know, I talked a little bit about Proposition 12 on the medical malpractice side, and I don’t do any med mal, so no expert at all in that. Um, but I, I just don’t like situations where you can’t provide evidence without having a big pocketbook.

[00:21:52] And providing experts in a medical malpractice case is why medical malpractice has changed a lot. Right? And the same thing with [00:22:00] family law. When you start legislating areas that prevent. A, a case from coming to a judge. The judge has remedies for attorney’s fees, uh, for summary judgements and all these things to shut out, uh, litigants from frivolous litigation.

[00:22:15] But when you prevent the ability to get the evidence before a judge, That has a detrimental impact on a child without knowing what that is or why that’s happening. I just think that’s a disservice to children. I think it’s a bad example to set for parents that are making very poor decisions and the the kind of money that these cases cost.

[00:22:37] Most people that are literally at the latter stages and lower earning capacity of their life, they just can’t afford it. And I’m sitting in there, people go, why? Why don’t you just take this pro bono? Well, a, I have to, you know, provide a business and a family practice and. And whatnot. And, and, and it’s, it’s very challenging to cover the costs of, of the expenditures of attorneys and staff and all this [00:23:00] to be able to support you know, our existing clients.

[00:23:03] Um, and I hope someday I’ll be able to have enough money where I can do that. But the, the long-winded way of saying, and we need a better lobby. Of people that are dealing with these issues, people that go through the hardships of this are the best advocates, and they need to be up at legislature at the legislative level and not at the lawyer complaining level, well, my lawyer’s just this, and he didn’t, he didn’t do a good job and he’s terrible and all that stuff.

[00:23:25] It needs to be done at the legislative level and it is being done. It’s just there’s, there’s groups out there that. Even I’m unaware of, as far as how I have a voice with the legislature there. Um, and, and hopefully as I, as I enter the later stages of my career, that’s, that’s some of my focus and I’ll, I’ll spend more time on that.

[00:23:46] So, uh, you know, people would, I’m sure like to know what the process is. If you are a third party, um, and say you are able to prove that you have standing to file a lawsuit, um, either a, a saper, a suit affecting the parent-child [00:24:00] relationship or a modification. What do the steps look like in terms of, um, that process to try to get possession or conservatorship?

[00:24:10] So the first step, obviously, is you, you gather the information into. I, I like to put it in a timeline format because that gets converted into an affidavit and I think that the best, the best way to organize an affidavit is in summary timeline format with dates, uh, and date order. Um, and that really gets the clients organized in their own mind when you’re thinking about the difficulties they’ve had.

[00:24:34] And so, when they get, when they get the events in timeline order, some of the, some of those incidents will pull out because they’re not, um, they don’t rise to the level of serious media question. And you don’t want, you don’t want the nitpicky situations when you’re putting it in an affidavit. That’s part of the reason why Troxel came along, because, you know, parents are like, well, they, they, they’re feeding the child McDonald’s too often.

[00:24:57] Right. And they’re, they’re not, uh, they’re not [00:25:00] exercising the child well, I mean, okay. There are s. There’s a lot of situations where kids can be in an environment that maybe somebody can do it better. I’m sure parents can raise my kids better than I do, right? But that, that doesn’t rise to the level of serious media question.

[00:25:15] So you get that evidence together in timeline format that gets converted into an affidavit, and then the affidavit attaches to the petition. The petition brings you to court, and then the court at that point in time we’ll decide whether they sign what’s called a T R O, um, or temporary restraining order, providing a setting for court.

[00:25:36] Okay? And this is true across the board for property child issues. It’s a very similar path. So the only difference here is the affidavit portion. You really need to spend time up front getting that information together and, and auditing that, um, so that you’re not firing off. Like I said, the, the shot that doesn’t hit the target.

[00:25:56] And so once you have that together, you go to [00:26:00] court, you gather the evidence, you’re, you should be doing that while you’re writing the affidavit. While you’re doing the timeline because this thing happens in very short form, especially when you take a child away from a, a parent. So the courts will often expedite those hearings, and what that means is your lawyer has to be Johnny on the spot to get all the information and evidence together.

[00:26:20] And when you get there and you don’t have it, they can pour you out. If they say you don’t have standing, you’re out. So if the, when we go back to when you get a child in your possession, that’s when the planning needs to start gathering that information going forward from there, then you get temporary orders.

[00:26:38] And by very definition, especially in these cases where you have third parties, uh, or non-relatives caring for a child, the mindset needs to be just like it is with an adoption or just like it is with, uh, fostering a child. This is a temporary environment. And you’ve got to get your client’s head around that because that’s the hardest thing you do, [00:27:00] um, is tell a client, Hey, listen, we’ve got these temporary orders.

[00:27:04] They’re great. Uh, but, but they’re not permanent. And, and the goal is for the parent’s reunification. And so often when I hear. Clients call and they say, well, you know, they’ve got that, uh, vendetta against their child. Or you can really sense that there’s a lot of animosity in venom. I, I, I often will tell them we’re not the right fit for that client, uh, because they end up getting in situations where it doesn’t matter what the parent does to get back in the driver’s seat, they don’t wanna allow it.

[00:27:31] And, and that’s where, that’s where courts can really drop the hammer on third parties. But then from there, the temporary orders go into place. Same process. You’ve got discovery. You oftentimes will have the other grandparents step in because, well, no, little Johnny’s, you know, his parents can’t be the one.

[00:27:48] It’s gotta be us. So you get in these fights within a fight, and that’s why those cases can be really, really acrimonious, really problematic, very emotional, very expensive. So [00:28:00] we’re very hesitant to fire off that shot unless it’s absolutely necessary to protect the best interest of a child. So, you know, looking on the reverse side of it, it sounds like it’s.

[00:28:11] I don’t really wanna say easier, but I guess in a sense it’s easier if you are the parent to trying to get your child back from say, a third party. Um, can you talk a little bit maybe about some of the circumstances involving those situations, um, and, and what you as an attorney do to help them regain custody of their children?

[00:28:33] So when I said earlier that one of. Two of my least favorite cases, were defending the third party. I also, on the other side of that coin, on the far end of the spectrum, um, my favorite cases are the ones where people rehabilitate. Um, you know, when I, when I see somebody that’s just broken and they, you know, it’s, it’s interesting to me that a lot of these cases, [00:29:00] the parents or the grandparents that were originally involved, or the third parties, Uh, this didn’t just happen overnight.

[00:29:06] There were a lot of mistakes that were made along the way. And so when I see a grandparent step in or a third party step in and just decide at all costs, there’s no chance of healing, there’s no chance of rehabilitation. You’re gonna always be a drug addict. You’re gonna always be, um, you know, an abuser or cause emotional distress to a child.

[00:29:28] When I see that lack of humanity in, in people, I love, and this is kind of weird, this is my weird thing, but I love getting on the offensive. I when, when it’s, when it’s an aggressive scenario and somebody is doing exactly what we ask them to do, and they’re rehabilitating, they’re making the changes, and they’re going to treatment, they’re going to facilities, and they’ve undergone the things that are necessary.

[00:29:50] Um, because I don’t wanna, I mean, I’ve said this before, I’m not gonna put some child, I’m not gonna go just because I’m a lawyer and I represent you. Go say, Hey, it’s fine. You’re a drug addict. [00:30:00] Let’s put the this child in your care. That’s not the way it goes. Um, so I’m pretty tough on my clients and, you know, when they, when they do what we need ’em to do, um, it’s awesome.

[00:30:11] It’s, it’s really neat to watch that transition and that’s when sometimes you’ll see the other party feeling like they’re losing. And they shouldn’t feel that way. They, they may have been wronged, they may have been out a bunch of money. It may be really hard to mend the relationship, but, but when the effort’s made and you just have this non forgiving factor to you, Um, it’s really easy, uh, in my opinion, to get on the offensive.

[00:30:39] And so when the burden of proof is as high as it is and, and the party does what they’re supposed to do, um, and, and you’re still stepping in and trying to control the, the narrative and the environment. Um, that that’s when, uh, we step back. We, we can, we can knock them out. And, and the problem with that [00:31:00] is it generally comes with a very burned relationship.

[00:31:03] And it, it takes a long time to heal that. And I always, Andrea and I talked with you, Mary, about it takes a village right when you start. Um, Killing off, and I use the word killing off because when you’re cutting off, uh, a family member, that’s what you’re doing. When you start cutting off a family member, what that means is that something so traumatic has happened between that relationship that you can’t have that child in that environment anymore.

[00:31:28] That’s taking away of that, uh, uh, a piece of that child’s d n a, uh, a piece of their child’s upbringing. That should be a very positive force. But when it is a negative one, you absolutely cut that cancer out. You knock them out and you, you kick them out six ways from Sunday. Keep ’em three states away, in my opinion.

[00:31:46] And, you know, when they get that extreme, um, you know, sometimes I, I hate to say it, but I, I, I, I, I’ve got one really good skillset that’s this trial courtroom and I will absolutely expose someone that does that. [00:32:00] Um, that’s overbearing when you have somebody doing the right thing. So, uh, we’re getting close time to wrap up here, guys.

[00:32:07] Um, any other final thoughts on this topic for today? Andrea, you also have the perspective of speaking with a lot of clients about this topic. Any other thoughts? One thing we didn’t touch on is he said very early in the podcast the misuse of grandparents that they’re trying to misuse or misunderstand what grandparents’ rights actually are.

[00:32:26] Can you touch on that? Because as a grandparent, I don’t have the right to say I wanna see my grandbabies more cuz just because I have a bad relationship with my daughter or son or step, whatever, my, my, um, son-in-law and they don’t allow you to see my child. I don’t have a right as a grandparent to say.

[00:32:42] Go to court and say, I wanna see them every Tuesday. Right. That’s a misuse of that law. Yeah, and, and I think that, I hope that the goal for both parents and grandparents is to try to heal whatever it is relationally that is creating the need to go pay lawyers a bunch of money [00:33:00] to show that you shouldn’t be around a child or you should be around a child.

[00:33:03] I mean, it, it. I hope that all we’re doing here is giving people some insight. How do you heal this relationship before we go hire lawyers? I think people try to ex execute self-help without internal reflection, uh, all the time. And Andrea and I talk behind the scenes about our own families and, you know, it’s, it’s just comforting cuz I, I think we have a very direct approach based on our life, our life circumstances.

[00:33:28] And I, I think, um, we do a good job here of sharing that, uh, with our clients. But, but, uh, and our personal experiences, I like, I like to give those, that insight. Um, because when you are in a situation, uh, Where you, you can’t control it. Um, people get nervous and they go and they do the first thing that um, comes to mind.

[00:33:50] Usually they get on their internet and they go and see grandparents’ rights. My child’s not letting me see the kid. This is terrible. This is ridiculous. I’m gonna do something about it. And the minute that you [00:34:00] start trying to control every aspect of your own environment, it feels. Like you’re just the, what the walls are caving in.

[00:34:07] And I think that’s God’s way of saying you ain’t got control of this. Right. And so I think it’s important, uh, to your question, Andrea, to like to, to really fundamentally do some internal reflection. Put some boundaries up, set the expectation, have the conversation, and then, and only then, uh, do you start going to a, a lawyer.

[00:34:29] I love when clients come in and say, Hey, we’ve tried this therapy situation with my kids and their grandkids, and we’re not, we’re not making any headway here. And now they’re just precluding me from being around. The most tragic situations we see it in are when one parent dies, um, and passes away, and then, you know, it.

[00:34:46] One, the other party just shuts out the other family members. That’s where there’s provisions in the family code to allow for some of that visitation and access. But the short answer to your question, just because you want to see your grandchild, Um, and you’re not being [00:35:00] allowed to, that ain’t gonna get you there, um, or third party next to kin.

[00:35:04] So it’s a really high burden. Uh, you need to do some internal reflection. Try to heal it from within. Constantly be doing the nice things. Don’t tell them how to parent, send birthday stuff, but don’t, don’t be overbearing with it. Don’t try to put your thumb on that child’s head because at some point they will rebel.

[00:35:23] And when that child rebels from you, It may be because of you. And when they do that, um, you know, you might be shutting out these, some of these very important relationships. And I, I love, like, I, I watched my father-in-law, you know, my parents with my, with my kids. It’s such a cool thing. I didn’t have that growing up.

[00:35:41] I didn’t have good grandparents that were, you know, showing me how to fix stuff and take, take them to do things with them. And I love that opportunity. Everyone out there should love that opportunity, but don’t, don’t step on that, that that hornets nest, cuz you’re gonna get stung more than you know in this situation.

[00:35:57] And I think that, cuz I’m a grandparent too. The [00:36:00] coolest thing about grandparents is you don’t have to raise them. So don’t try to raise your grand babies. That’s the coolest thing about being grandparents. You can spoil them. You want more sugar, you don’t wanna take a nap. Whatever you wanna do, you can do all that stuff, stuff.

[00:36:11] And I do the same thing that I hated my mother was doing to my kids. But that’s the cool thing about being a grandparent. Let the parents raise the kids. You might disagree in how they raise their kids, but just spoil them and be there for them. Cuz that relationship, like you said, is so very different.

[00:36:26] Of the parent. So if you have the opportunity, do everything you can to be in your grandkid’s lives cuz it’s, it’s just a blessing. I mean, I love being with my grandbabies and taking them out and doing fun stuff. Stuff I never did with my kids. I would’ve yelled at my kids. And with the grandbabies it’s just like, oh whatever, cuz I can’t take them back home.

[00:36:41] And then they go back to their parents and have the sugar rushed there. So just make sure you are involved in the grandbaby’s lives. Super, super cool. I love it. Well, I think that’s a great place to wrap up you guys. So if you’d like to contact the Sisemore Law Firm, you can call 8 1 7 3 3 6 4 4 4 [00:37:00] 4 or visit

[00:37:02] We also invite you to follow the podcast and share it with friends who might find it helpful. Thanks again for listening in and have a great day. Thank you for listening to In Your Best Interest with Texas Divorce Attorney and entrepreneur, Justin Sisemore. The content presented here is provided for information only and should not be construed as legal, tax, or financial advice.

[00:37:24] Click the follow button to be notified when new episodes become available.