We keep family ties strong, representing grandparents and extended family in suits for primary custody of children. We also help grandparents and extended family intervene in pending suits brought by CPS.
Are you raising your grandchildren due to current circumstances facing your adult child? Do you require legal action to solidify your rights to the child and prevent them from being taken from you by an unfit parent? Have you lost contact with your grandchild after a divorce or death of the child’s parent? Our Fort Worth child custody lawyers help grandparents and other extended family members to step in and obtain conservatorship for the protection of the child.
At the law firm of Schreier & Housewirth, we have represented grandparents and other family members for over 20 years, and our family lawyers can answer your questions about grandparents’ rights. We evaluate your case, analyze how the laws apply to your particular situation and educate you about your options.
Grandparent Custody Cases
In most cases, it is in a child’s best interest to be raised by the mother and father. However, when a child’s physical health or emotional development is significantly impaired, it may be in the child’s best interest to be raised by another family member. Particularly, if the child is removed from the home by Child Protective Services (CPS), the grandparent or other extended family member may have a right to seek conservatorship (custody) in order to prevent the child from being sent to a foster home. For example, if the child has resided in your home and care for more than a year, you may have a say in the CPS case.
Grandparent Access/Visitation Rights
In advising grandparents who wish to seek custody, we are guided by the legal standard established by Texas Family Code 102.004 “Standing for Grandparent” which states:
A grandparent may file an original suit requesting managing conservatorship if there is satisfactory proof to the court that:
- The order is necessary because the child’s present environment would significantly impair the child’s physical health or emotional development; or
- Both parents, the surviving parent, or the managing conservator or custodian either filed the petition or consented to the suit.
We listen to grandparents to obtain a detailed factual history of the child’s life and the circumstances that raise a “serious question” concerning the child. Our Fort Worth grandparent’s rights attorneys require our grandparent clients to provide us a list of witnesses who have independent knowledge regarding the child and his or her care. Neighbors, friends, teachers and coaches, just to name a few, are valuable sources of information. We then give grandparents our candid assessment of their chances of prevailing in Tarrant County family law court or other family courts throughout North Texas.
Examples of situations that can lead a grandparent to seek managing conservatorship of a grandchild are those involving issues of a parent’s chronic drug usage, mental illness, unstable living situation, chronic neglect, physical abuse or exposure of the child to others who have physically abused the child.
If we proceed with the case, we recommend that the grandparents seek “emergency orders” permitting them to take, and retain physical possession of the child until a full hearing is held within two weeks. In order to obtain such emergency orders, the court will require that the grandparents prepare a sworn affidavit providing facts as to why the child is in immediate danger if allowed to remain in his or her current environment. If necessary, the court may enter orders authorizing a law officer to attach the child and place the child in the care of the grandparent.
The emergency orders remain in effect for fourteen days. Prior to the expiration of fourteen days, the court will schedule an evidentiary hearing at the Tarrant County Family Law Center to consider whether temporary orders should be entered for the safety and protection of the child. Although a parent need not be notified of an application for emergency orders, a parent is entitled to notice of, and the right to be heard at, a hearing on temporary orders. Temporary orders can remain in effect for the duration of the case, that is, until a final order is entered.
The outcome of a grandparent managing conservatorship case depends largely upon the parent or parents of the child. The critical question is: will the parent make the changes necessary in his or her life to provide the child with a safe and loving home?
We should also mention that, many times, a parent is aware of his or her problems and understands that the child needs to be in the care of someone else. In these situations, we are able to assist our clients in preparing the appropriate conservatorship documents and obtaining their entry by the court.
At all points during this process, you can count on the child custody lawyers at Schreier & Housewirth to move quickly and aggressively to protect your grandchild from continued abuse or neglect.
In other circumstances, a grandparent may lose connection with their grandchildren upon the death of their child. The child’s surviving parent may refuse to continue relations with grandparents. Now, not only are the children coping with the traumatic loss of a parent, but also the loss of their grandma or grandpa. As experienced family law attorneys, we can evaluate your case and determine if you have a claim to seek legal visitation (otherwise known as grandparent access).