Grandparents’ and Non-Parents’ Rights
When Parental Rights Conflict With Those of Non-Parents
One of the most difficult outcomes of the dissolution of a relationship is the effect it can have on the relationship between a grandparent and a grandchild. In the aftermath of divorce or other significant relationship changes, grandparents can find themselves without access to the children they have loved and visited with since birth. When you retain the services of Kimberly D. Levi, a family lawyer whose practice is in Houston, you can expect experienced representation in all facets of matters involving parental rights versus the rights of non-parents.
Supreme Court Limits Rights of Grandparents and Non-Parents
Grandparents rights received a setback in 2000 when the U.S. Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional for grandparents to infringe on the rights of fit parents. The ruling placed severe restrictions on the rights of grandparents to seek custody of or visitation with a child against the child’s parent’s wishes. Since 2000, many Texas courts have reviewed and interpreted this controversial ruling of the United States Supreme Court and the Texas Legislature has conformed its grandparents’ rights statutes to comply with the ruling.
In the years since the Supreme Court’s ruling in Troxel v. Grannville, cases in Texas involving grandparent and non-parent rights have focused on the following issues:
Is the child endangered by the current custody and visitation arrangement?
Are the parents fit?
In the case of grandparents rights, does the parent already allow “reasonable” visitation between the grandchild and the grandparent?
Texas courts are required interpret the answers to the foregoing questions as “threshold” issues that help the court determine right up front if the court will even allow the litigation brought by a grandparent or non-parent to proceed.
Resisting or Obtaining Child Custody or Visitation
Whether you are seeking or resisting a request for custody or visitation by a grandparent or non-parent, it is essential to seek advice from an attorney who knows how Texas appellate courts have ruled in similar cases and how particular courts in your jurisdiction are likely to rule. Understanding at the outset the rules in Texas that govern such litigation will go very far toward assisting you in planning your litigation strategy with your attorney. Being armed with knowledge of the law in Texas and with its application to the specifics of your case is invaluable to you in your decision-making process. Become informed and understand your rights by contacting Kimberly D. Levi for a consultation today.