Unfortunately, in today’s world, grandparents are faced with situations involving their grand children which make them petitioners in cases involving grand children and conservatorship. We are regularly called by grandparents who believe that they should be able to seek primary conservatorship of their grand children due to the actions of the child’s parent or parents. The general rule is that a grandparent can not file an original suit requesting conservatorship of a grand child unless specific grounds are present to allow the Court to grant the grandparent standing.
Do Grandparents have standing in Court?
The answer is “yes” and “no” depending on the circumstances of the child. In addition to the general standing to file suit provided by the Texas Family Code, a grandparent, or another relative of the child related within the third degree by consanguinity, may file an original suit requesting managing conservatorship only if there is satisfactory proof to the court that:
(1) the order requested is necessary because the child’s present circumstances would significantly impair the child’s physical health or emotional development; or, (2) both parents, the surviving parent, or the managing conservator or custodian either filed the petition or consented to the suit.
However, in general, an original suit requesting possessory conservatorship may not be filed by a grandparent or other person. However, the court may grant a grandparent or other person, subject to the requirements of above, if applicable, deemed by the court to have had substantial past contact with the child leave to intervene in a pending suit filed by a person authorized to do so under the Texas Family Code if there is satisfactory proof to the court that appointment of a parent as a sole managing conservator or both parents as joint managing conservators would significantly impair the child’s physical health or emotional development.
A foster parent may only be granted leave to intervene under this provision if the foster parent would have standing to file an original suit as provided by Section 102.003(a)(12) of the Texas Family Code.
Possession of or access to a child by a grandparent is governed by the standards established by the possession schedules in Chapter 153 of the Texas Family Code.
For many years grandparents have had standing to seek managing conservatorship when a child’s present circumstances would significantly impair the child’s physical well-being or emotional development. In 2007, the legislature amended the Family Code to grant any relative within the third degree of consanguinity of the child standing to seek managing conservatorship. In other words, greatgrandparents, siblings, and blood aunts and uncles now have standing
to seek managing conservatorship under this section. The general rule in litigation is that standing cannot be conferred by consent.