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I'm a grandparent. How can I get visitation rights?

They say it takes a village to raise a child, but in today's world, that "village" is often comprised of grandparents and other extended family members. Marriage joins two families as one, but divorce often has people taking sides, and that can mean that one — or sometimes even both — sets of grandparents end up alienated from their grandchildren. While Texas does have some legal avenues for grandparents to seek visitation rights, there is often a misconception about what grandparents can do.

In any case, whether or not a grandparent is granted court-ordered visitation rights depends on the best interests of the child. While in most cases, it is in the best interests of the child to have as many people around as possible that love him or her, the courts must also navigate around the parental right to socialize your children as you see fit.

If you can, match your schedule up with your child's so that you can see your grandchild during the standard visitation time. If this is problematic, petitioning the courts may get you a visitation day for a few hours a couple of times a month. However, it's important to remember that just like with anything else in the family courts, this is not guaranteed.

It's important to remember that if at all possible, it is best to work with the parents of the children, even if it is your son or daughter's soon-to-be ex-spouse. A low-conflict environment is always in the best interests of the child, but sometimes agreements can't be worked out. In these situations, a family law attorney can help.

Source: The Attorney General of Texas, "Grandparents' Page," accessed Sep. 01, 2015

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