January 28, 2011 – Finally, some good news for grandparents who have been denied access to their grandchildren.
It’s been a tough 10 years for grandparents – ever since the 2000 U.S. Supreme Court case that held that a parent has a fundamental right to decide who has access to a child. Under this ruling, a parent who is “fit” is presumed to make decisions, including the decision to keep a grandparent from contacting a child, in a way that serves the best interest of the child.
Since then, Texas has struggled with the question of grandparent rights. The Family Code was amended twice; once in 2005 and again in 2009. For cases filed after September 1, 2009, a grandparent has a pretty big burden – he has to show the court that denial of possession of or access to the child by the grandparent would significantly impair the child’s physical health or emotional well being.
And now for the good news – on November 5, 2010 the Texas Supreme Court held that a grandfather could have some help meeting that burden. The grandfather was entitled to the appointment of a psychologist, who would examine the children, the parents and the grandfather and make a recommendation to the court. This decision appears to open the door to allow grandparents to pursue discovery of other evidence in these cases to help them in meeting their burden of proof to obtain court-ordered access and possession.
Author: Craig Fowler