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Do grandparents have visitation rights?

Dallas grandparents may wish to know whether they are legally allowed to petition for visitation rights to a grandchild. The answer depends on the laws of the state though Texas is more restrictive than others are.

Many states allow a permissive visitation right, which lets a grandparent request visitation when the parents are still married and alive. Texas has a more restrictive visitation law. In Texas, a grandparent can request that a court grant visitation of a grandchild. However, this visitation will be granted when the court feels that it is in the best interests of the child. These circumstances include when the grandchild's parents have divorce or have died, when a parent is in prison or otherwise incarcerated, when there is neglect or abuse found on the part of the parents, or when the parent-child relationship has been ended by order of the court.

A recent Supreme Court case successfully challenged one state's third-party visitation law, which had an effect on other states' similar laws. The court found that Washington's permissive visitation law was broader than it needed to be because it took control away from the child's parents. Each state now gives deference to a parent's wishes when granting visitation rights to a grandparent or other person, allowing them more leeway in deciding what is in their child's best interests.

Because every person's situation is unique, this article should not be taken as legal advice. Understanding the ability of a person to exercise their grandparents' rights to visitation of a grandchild can be difficult without the assistance of an attorney. The attorney may be able to represent the grandparent in court to petition for visitation, or may be helpful in other family legal issues.

Source: Findlaw, "Grandparent Visitation Rights", August 28, 2014

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