In general, parents welcome the chance for their children to form relationships with their grandparents. When parents object to contact, however, a grandparent will likely need a court order to obtain the legal right to visit grandchildren. Texas state law does not grant grandparents an automatic right to see grandchildren. Federal law affirms this view because of a decision from the Supreme Court of the United States that established parents as the parties who decide who has contact with their children.
For a grandparent to have an access or visitation case heard in court, the person must show that a parent is in jail or prison, mentally incompetent, dead or living separately from the child. If the parents have allowed others to adopt their child, grandparents will have no ability to file a petition for visitation.
If a court chooses to hear such a case, the judge will first determine if contact with grandparents would be in a child's best interest. Once this condition is met, a judge might issue a court order granting contact if the parents are divorced, abusive or neglectful, incarcerated, incompetent or deceased or if they already had a court sever their ties with the child. If none of these conditions exist, a grandparent might still have a chance to establish legal contact if the grandchild has lived with the grandparent for a minimum of six months.
A grandparent concerned about access to a grandchild because of a divorce or separation may wish to consult an attorney. After evaluating the facts, an attorney may be able to inform the person about the likelihood of a family court hearing the visitation case. If the prospects appear good, an attorney might prepare the petition and explain how access to the grandparent could support the best interests of the child.