Grandparent Rights Lawyer in Austin
More and more frequently, grandparents have taken a greater role in raising their grandchildren. The laws in the State of Texas recognize this increased role of grandparents in their grandchildren’s lives and in limited instances provide a legal avenue for grandparent rights to be asserted.
What rights do grandparents have in Texas?
The State of Texas endorses the belief that the biological or adoptive parents of a child have the rights to make decisions about the care, control, and custody of their child. The court operates under the assumption that it is best for children to live with their biological parents. This is called the “parental presumption.” As a grandparent, your custody and visitation (“possession” and “access”) rights are limited.
Some Texas laws relating to child custody and visitation apply specifically to grandparents. Other laws apply more generally to adults other than the child’s parents, but do not exclude grandparents. If you need an experienced lawyer in the Austin area to fight for your rights as a grandparent, call the law offices of Sue Berkel.
Do grandparents have rights to see their grandchildren?
According to the United States Supreme Court, the parent of a child has the right to decide who that child has contact with. Texas courts support this ruling and require that a grandparent who seeks to obtain legal visitation rights against the wishes of the parents must establish that the denial of visitation rights would significantly impair the child’s emotional or physical health. It can be difficult to establish this without expert testimony. Your lawyer may wish to schedule a preliminary hearing to either appoint an expert or to request an evaluation of the child.
How do I get grandparent rights?
If you are a grandparent who needs a lawyer to pursue your rights, the Law Offices of Sue Berkel can assist you. Call today for a free consultation or contact us today using our online form.
How do I get custody of my grandchildren?
If you have concern for the welfare of your grandchildren, you may want to consider seeking custody of them. To gain custody of a grandchild, you can file suit. If a lawsuit pertaining to the custody of the child already exists, you cannot file a new one. You may, however, ask to join the lawsuit, or “intervene.”
To file an original lawsuit, one of the following things must have occurred:
- The child has lived with you for at least six months and is currently living with you, or the end of the period in which the child lived with you was within 90 days of the date you filed the lawsuit.
- Both parents, a surviving parent, the child’s custodian, or the court-appointed managing conservator of the child consent that the child should live with you.
- A court has appointed you as the custodian of the child
- You can prove that the child is being harmed by his or her living conditions or by the people currently caring for the child.
To intervene in an existing lawsuit, you must be able to prove that the child is being harmed by his or her living conditions or the people caring for the child and that you have had substantial past contact with the child.
Seeking custody of your grandchildren may be especially helpful if the child lives with you part- or full-time. In considering the residence of a child in the context of a custody suit, the court does not require that the period the child lived with you be continuous and will consider the child’s primary residence during the applicable time period.
In any custody lawsuit, the services of an experienced lawyer are indispensable.
What is conservatorship?
There are three different types of legal custody that can be ordered by Texas courts.
- A managing conservator is the person that the child lives with and who makes the primary decisions about the care of the child.
- A possessory conservatorship means the person ordered to have such will be able to make some decisions about raising the child and will be able to visit.
- A joint managing conservatorship is an arrangement where the child lives mainly with one parent, but both parents are able to make decisions concerning the care and welfare of the child.
Sue Berkel's Experience
Education and Licenses
Sue Berkel has lived in the Austin area since 1976, graduating with honors from the University of Texas. She received her law degree from the University of Texas Law School in 1983. Sue is licensed to practice in Texas as well as the Federal District Court in the Western District.
A Former Prosecutor
Ms. Berkel was employed as Assistant Attorney General at the state Attorney General's office, working cases involving day care centers in which abuse or neglect was alleged. After more than one hundred trials and appellate arguments in federal and state courts, Sue emerged with an over 90 percent win record.
A Former Judge
Sue Berkel also served as an administrative judge at the Texas State Office of Administrative Hearings. She rose to the rank of Senior Administrative Law Judge. With experience as a prosecutor and a family rights lawyer, this experience as a judge makes Sue Berkel one of the most experienced grandparent rights lawyers in the Austin area.