Yes. Grandparents can gain legal custody of their grandchildren by filing a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (“SAPCR”). However, certain conditions must exist before a grandparent may file a SAPCR.
When Can A Grandparent Get Custody of Their Grandchildren?
Grandparents can file for custody in the following situations:
The grandparents have had actual care, control, and possession of the child for six months;
The grandchild and parent (the grandparent’s child) has lived with the grandparents for at least one year, not ending more than three months ago;
The grandchild's parents have passed away;
The grandparent is a legal guardian of the grandchild;
The grandchild’s parents consent to the grandparents filing the SAPCR; or
The child’s physical or emotional development would be significantly impaired by remaining in their parent’s custody.
Understanding this List
It's only necessary to meet one condition the list above. If the grandparents meet multiple conditions their ability to file will be strengthened, but it's not required.
It's important to understand that meeting a condition on this list doesn't guarantee the grandparents custody. Instead, meeting a condition from this list is the only way grandparents can get before a court to make their case for custody. Think of it as meeting one of the conditions as the price for entry; if you can't meet it, you can't get in, and if you can't get in you can't make your case for custody.
How is Significant Impairment Proven?
A grandchild may suffer significant impairment if their parents are physically abusing or neglecting them, have abandoned them, are abusing drugs or alcohol, or involved in immoral behavior. Grandparents can allege these facts to a court and ask the court to consider the factors and determine whether the child’s physical health or emotional development is being significantly impaired.
What if Only One Parent Consents?
If this is the only condition that exists that would permit a grandparent to file for custody, then they will need the consent of every managing conservator. If the grandchild’s parents are divorced and one parent is the sole managing conservator, then that’s the only parent who needs to consent. Otherwise, both parents need to consent.
Can a Grandparent Receive Child Support?
Yes. Parents have an obligation to financially support their children. If grandparents have custody of a grandchild, they can request a court order child support be to them.
If you are dealing with an issue involving grandparents and custody of a grandchild and want to discuss your rights, you can reach Kannon Moore at 512-900-6011.