Grandparents’ Roles During Divorce

Grandparents Playing with Grandkids

What are grandparents’ rights in a divorce? And how can they support the best interests of their grandchildren?

When grandparents become involved in child custody, either seeking custody or visitation rights, the situation can become even more intricate.

Understanding the rights and roles of grandparents, as well as managing relationships to keep the peace, is crucial for all parties involved. While maintaining healthy extended family relationships post-divorce no matter what “side” you are on can be challenging, understanding and practicing how to best co-exist and – perhaps even more importantly – co-support any (grand) children involved is worth thoughtful dedication and effort.

This blog explores these dynamics, answering a question that we often hear – “Do grandparents have rights in Texas?” and offering some guidance for both grandparents and parents.

Do Grandparents Have Rights in Texas?

Grandparents can play an essential role in many families, but their rights in custody and visitation matters are specific and nuanced under Texas law.

Do Grandparents Have Rights in Texas

Overview of Texas Laws on Grandparents’ Custody and Visitation Rights

In Texas, grandparents do not have automatic rights to custody or visitation.

Grandparents may petition the court under certain circumstances for rights to either custody or visitation. For instance, grandparents may seek custody if they can prove that the child’s current living situation presents a significant risk to their physical or emotional well-being.

Legal Criteria for Grandparents to Gain Custody

In most cases, grandparents must demonstrate that they have had substantial past contact with the child and that the parents are either deceased, incarcerated, or otherwise unable to care for the child properly. The court will consider whether granting custody to grandparents is in the best interest of the child.

Conditions for Seeking Visitation Rights

To be granted visitation (versus a custody petition), grandparents must show that denying visitation would significantly impair the child’s physical health or emotional well-being. The court may also consider the relationship between the grandparent and the child and whether the parents have been neglectful or abusive.

Children holding hands on the beach

Keeping the Peace as a Grandparent

Maintaining harmony while navigating these legal waters is crucial. Grandparents must balance their desire to be involved in their grandchildren’s lives with the need to respect the parents’ authority and decisions. It’s a delicate dance in many situations.

It is also important to consider what would benefit the grandchild the most and ensure that the child(ren) has the best chance at thriving and developing. The Texas Children’s Bill of Rights outlines key dynamics to keep in mind during and after divorce proceedings.

Strategies for Maintaining Relationships

  • Stay Involved Respectfully: Grandparents should aim to be a supportive presence without overstepping boundaries. Regular, positive communication with both parents can help maintain a good relationship if that is possible.
  • Effective Communication: Open, respectful dialogue with the parents can prevent misunderstandings and conflicts. It’s essential to listen to the parents’ perspectives and collaborate on what’s best for the children.
  • Respect Boundaries: Understanding and respecting each parent’s rules and decisions is critical. This respect helps build trust and cooperation, which is beneficial for the children’s well-being.

Legal Steps for Securing Rights

  • Seek Legal Advice: If grandparents feel that their involvement is crucial for the child’s welfare, consulting a family law attorney is the first step.
  • Filing for Custody or Visitation Rights: Grandparents need to be aware of the legal process, which may include filing a petition and possibly attending mediation or court hearings.
  • Family Court Expectations: Understanding what to expect in court can help grandparents prepare their case. It’s important to present evidence that supports their claim to custody or visitation rights.
Children playing

Advice for Divorced Parents Facing Grandparental Custody Claims

Parents facing custody or visitation claims from grandparents should approach the situation with care and a focus on the child’s best interests.

Remember that especially if a divorce is in the recent past or present, a child might feel particularly sensitive and hyper-aware of the situation’s dynamics. Reaching out to a professional counselor or other professional resources during this time to support your child might be something to keep in mind depending on your situation and how the child(ren) are handling the new dynamics.

Managing Relationships with Grandparents

  • Open Communication: Maintaining open lines of communication with grandparents can help alleviate tensions. Discussing concerns and finding mutually agreeable solutions is vital when possible.
  • Conflict Resolution: Utilizing conflict resolution strategies, such as mediation, can help resolve disputes amicably in some situations.
  • Focus on the Child’s Best Interest: Ensuring that decisions are made with the child’s best interest in mind should be the top priority for all parties.

Legal Considerations for Parents

  • Know Your Rights: Parents should be well-informed about their rights and obligations under Texas law. This knowledge empowers them to make informed decisions with the support of their family lawyer.
  • Responding to Legal Actions: If grandparents take legal action, parents must respond promptly and seek legal advice to protect their parental rights. This is not a time to try to solve problems without the support of an expert and/or team that could include a mediator, counselor, etc. in addition to your attorney.
  • Seeking Representation: Consulting with a family law attorney can provide parents with the necessary guidance and representation to navigate these complex issues.

Grandparents' Roles During Divorce

Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution

Mediation offers a less adversarial approach to resolving custody disputes in some situations. It allows all parties to discuss their concerns and work towards a solution that benefits the child without the stress and expense of a court battle if all parties are willing to communicate in a healthy manner.

While this method of resolution may not fit all situations, you can learn more about the Texas mediation process in this article. Discussing the best approach for your situation with your family lawyer is key.

Capps Law Firm is Ready to Advocate for You Every Step of the Way

Navigating the nuanced issues of child custody involving grandparents requires understanding, patience, and professional guidance. If you are a grandparent and wondering about your custody or visitation rights or if you are a parent facing a petition from a grandparent and unsure how to respond, our family lawyers are experienced and ready to support you.

For personalized legal assistance and consultations, contact our office or call us at (512) 338-9800. We are here to help you protect your family’s best interests.
Kelly J Capps










This article does not create an attorney-client relationship. Its purpose is to educate the public about the topic of family law. This article should not be seen as legal advice. You should consult with an attorney before you rely on this information.