Frequently Asked Questions
Visitation for Grandparents
The easiest way to visit with your grandchild is to establish or maintain positive relations with the child’s parents. Only one parent has to give permission, as long as you are visiting the child during that parent’s period of possession.
Under some circumstances, grandparents can obtain a court order granting them the right to visit their grandchildren over the objection of parents.
If you think the child is in serious and immediate danger by continuing to live with a parent (or parents), call 9-1-1 in the case of an emergency. Call Child Protective Services at 1 (800)-252-5400 if you believe the child is being abused or neglected.
You may also be able to get emergency relief in the form of a protective order and follow up with a suit to modify conservatorship.
It is possible for a grandparent or other non-parent to become a managing conservator. It can be very difficult, especially if you want to be the ONLY managing conservator. The Texas Family Code says that a parent or both parents should always be a managing conservator unless it is not in the child’s best interest (because it would significantly hurt the child’s physical health or emotional development). You must prove to the court that living with you is in the child’s best interest.
A court may be more likely to appoint you managing conservator if:
- the parent has voluntarily given up the child to you or some other person or agency; or
- both of the child’s parents are dead.
There may be other reasons as well. Contact an attorney for advice and assistance. An attorney can help you file a motion to modify the court order. Read more about motions to modify. Also, check with your local law library for the forms to file the motion to modify yourself or go to www.texaslawhelp.org. The process will be much easier if the parent agrees that you should become the managing conservator.
Sometimes, after parents separate, other family members miss seeing the child who has gone to live with only one parent. Grandparents have limited rights and non-relatives have even fewer. Maintaining a positive relationship with the parent of the child is one way to continue to see the child.
Before you contact the parents, think about how committed and how much time you can consistently spend with the child. Maintaining relationships when there has been conflict may not be easy, but it is possible. Communication tip: Be a good listener, be understanding, and stay focused on your goal, remaining involved with the child. Don’t argue. Don’t use adjectives. Stay positive, focus on what can happen.
Depending on the level of threat to the child, refusing to return the child might be a valid option if you think the child is in imminent danger. If possible, speak with an attorney about your situation before taking any action. For general legal information, call the Access and Visitation hotline at 1 (866) 292-4636 between 1 p.m. and 7 p.m., Monday-Friday. Spanish-speaking attorneys are available.
Talk with the parent about your concerns, and try to work out a solution that allows the child to stay with you. If the parent has been away a long time, talk about making any transition as easy on the child as possible. You could offer to take the child to the new home for progressively longer visits to the new home for a gradual transition.
If talking to the parent doesn’t work and the danger to the child is immediate, call 9-1-1 (for an emergency) or CPS at 1 (800)-252-5400 (if you suspect the child is being abused or neglected).