Child Custody rights of grandparents
Unfortunately the damage done by the breakdown of a marriage is never restricted to two people. We all recognise nowadays that while husband and wile may be suffering enormously, their kids are probably suffering most of all, and the more the parents suffer, the greater is the pressure on their children.
Often overlooked in this cycle of damage though are the grandparents. They too their relationships with their grandchildren threatened by the family breakdown, and in their case it can be both a practical problem and a legal problem to maintain the relationship!
The end of the relationship between two parents should not need to mean the end of the grandparent's relationship with their grandchild. In fact, with the rare exception of cases where the grandparent relationship is not being exploited by one of the parents for their own gain, it is always going to be in the best interest of the children for them to be able to continue their other significant relationships, like that unique role relationship with the grandparents.
In Texas, as elsewhere in the US, it is not normally a legal option for a biological or adoptive grandparent to file for custody of their grandchildren, as family law upholds that the best interest of the children are normally served by maximizing contact with their parents, providing that they have shown themselves willing and able to serve the child's best interests (as addressed in section 153.001 of the Texas Family Code).
There are of course exceptions to this rule, and in cases where there is evidence to suggest that the child is at risk of either physical or emotional damage, the grandparents can take the initiative and file a suit, suing for custody!
This is not the norm of course, even in dire situations, as regularly it is the court itself that takes the initiative in bringing in the grandparents. Indeed, if the parents fail to show themselves responsible enough to manage custody of the children, the grandparents are generally the first persons approached by the court for custody. Otherwise, the court has to consider other relatives as potential custodians, especially where the parents of a child are deceased or in jail.
These are of course the extreme options - where grandparents are either taking custody of their grandchildren or are shut out of their lives altogether! In the vast majority of cases, the grandparents rather have to go through similar struggles to those of the non-custodial parent - struggling to organise access times that fit in with the new family arrangements, while all the time giving preference to their grandchildren's estranged parents. The court can of course order that a grandparent receive reasonable possession or access to a grandchild, but they will generally prefer to leave arrangements to be worked out privately with the parents.
Ultimately a grandparent is in a unique position to assist the grandchild through a difficult time and the parents need to recognise this. Indeed, Grandparents should work hard during a time of family break up to make themselves available to their children and grandchildren, while of course remaining careful to avoid taking sides and letting their frustration spill out on to the children. Hopefully the kids' time with grandma and grandpa will be time to rest and recover from the present complications of their lives.