In Texas, the custody statute does not provide statutory factors for a court to determine proper custody. Conditions for grandparent visitation rights include a determination that one of the child's parents is deceased, incompetent, incarcerated, or has had his or her parental rights terminated. Visitation may also be awarded if the parents are divorced, the child has been abused or neglected, the child has been adjudicated a delinquent or in need of supervision, or the child has lived with the grandparent for at least six months within 24 months of the filing of the petition for visitation. Adoption cuts off the visitation rights of the grandparent unless the adoption is granted to a step-parent.
On June 5, 2000, the United States Supreme Court handed down a seminal ruling as regards the complex issue of grandparents rights. In the case of Troxel v. Granville, the court struck down a Washington state law that allowed any third party (i.e. grandparents, etc.) to petition state courts for child visitation rights over parental objections. The Court held that "the interest of parents in the care, custody and control of their children-is perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests recognized by this Court." That fundamental right is implicated in grandparent visitation cases, and as such, it struck down the Washington visitation statute because it unconstitutionally infringed on the right.
Our firm's cases involving parents with grandparents and grandparents' rights as regards their grandchildren have been increasing. This appears to be a nationwide trend. There seems to be a number of demographic and cultural reasons for this: