GRANDPARENT RIGHTS LITIGATION
Defending your visitation, access, and possession rights for your grandchild or granchildren
GRANDPARENT RIGHTS ATTORNEY
For Texas grandparents, gaining custody, access, or possession of a grandchild can be extremely challenging. Texas laws concerning grandparent rights are complex. If you’re a grandparent, you need an attorney who has had success getting results for grandparents in court. Hansary Laforest has achieved positive results for grandparents in family court, securing for them access and possession rights to grandchildren. Reaching out to him can enable you to protect a grandchild in need.
Under Texas Law, there are four ways grandparents can gain access to a grandchild. A grandparent may (1) file an original SAPCR (suit affecting the parent child-relationship), (2) may intervene in a pending SAPCR, (3) may be appointed a managing conservator if the parents are deceased, or (4) may file a petition for possession of or access to a child. For an original SAPCR, a grandparent must be able to show to the court that the order is necessary because the child’s present circumstances significantly impair the child’s physical health or emotional well-being, or that the parents or guardian consented to the suit.
Grandparent Petition for Possession of or Access to a Child
When a grandparent files for possession of or access to the child, there are a few considerations to keep in mind. First, “possession” and “access” have different meanings. “Possession” means that the grandparent may possess the grandchild to the exclusion of others. On the other hand “access” means that the grandparent may visit or communicate with the grandchild, but cannot take control of the child to the exclusion of a parent. Second, while biological and adoptive grandparents may file possession and access suits, “step-grandparents” may not. Third, grandparents filing possession and access suits must include an affidavit with facts showing that denying possession and access would significantly impair his or her physical health or emotional well-being.
Standards for Grandparent Possession or Access
Texas law is very specific about the requirements for a possession and access case. In order for possession or access for a grandparent to be granted:
- At least one biological or adoptive parent of the child must not have had their rights terminated
- The grandparent must overcome the presumption that a parent acts in the best interest of the child by proving that denial of possession or access would significantly impair the child’s physical health or emotional well-being
- The grandparent requesting possession and access is (1) a parent of the child’s parent and (2) that parent
- Has been incarcerated during the three months before the grandparent’s petition was filed
- Has been declared incompetent by a court
- Has died, or
- Does not have actual or court ordered possession of the child
Significant Impairment of Grandchild’s Physical Health or Emotional Well-Being
This standard is oftentimes the most difficult burden for grandparents to meet in court. The Supreme Court has recognized that parents enjoy a fundamental right to make decision about the care, custody, and control of their children. In Texas, grandparents can overcome this right by showing that denial of their possession or access can significantly impair the child’s physical health or emotional well-being. Courts generally look at this standard on a case-by-case basis. As a result, there is no one-size-fits-all approach in such cases. However, common factors a court may look to in deciding these cases are:
- Drug use of parents or caretakers in possession of the child
- Physical or emotional abuse of a child
- Negative educational impacts on the child
- Psychological impact on the child
Depending on the jurisdiction, some courts also look to whether a parent or guardian has completely excluded the child from the grandparents’ possession as an additional factor to be considered.
In grandparents’ cases, it’s important to select an attorney who as proven courtroom success. Hansary Laforest has successfully secured possession and access for grandparents who have been denied access to their grandchildren. He can use his knowledge and skill to help you get the best results. Call him for a free consultation today.