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Nonparents and Child Visitation

Grandparents & Other Nonparent Caregivers

It is common for nonparents, such as grandparents, to nurture children. Gain a better understanding of the legal framework for gaining access and encouraging good interactions.

Nonparents are vital members of the village it takes to raise a child. They contribute to raising children by investing their time and resources in them. Here, learn more about the Texas laws that govern visitation schedules and learn about what courts can and cannot do in terms of visitation for nonparents.

Who else (besides me) can pick up and drop off my child for visitation with the other parent?

The standard possession order is the court order that gives the rules about the time the children spend with each parent. Sometimes these rules say that each parent can choose an adult they trust to pick up and return the child during their own visitation periods. Other times, the custody orders can restrict who can pick up and drop off the child. For example, the order might say only family members can pick up and drop off the child or that a particular person has no permission at all.  

The person the parent chooses to help pick up and drop off must follow the rules in the court order. For plans to go well, it is best to tell the other parent about who will be helping with visitation. Then, if the other parent does not let that person pick up or drop off, it is the same as if it happened to the parent who sent them. 

Do I have to stay there with my child the whole time for visitation? 

Not usually, but make sure you check the court order paperwork for any special instructions or restrictions.

Is the person I choose to pick up able to enforce the visitation order if the other parent blocks visitation?  

Only people whose names are on the court order can request to enforce it. In this case, only the parent can request to enforce the order so that pick-ups and drop-offs will be smoother for the nonparents in the future. 

Can I refuse visitation if I don’t like the person who the other parent chose to pick up our child?  

Not unless your court papers allow it. But, know that parents might disagree about choices like this.  

If you have concerns about your child’s safety and well-being with the person the other parent chose, you can ask about filing a modification. This allows you to ask the court to update or change the rules in the current paperwork so you can address any new circumstances or concerns.

If I can’t attend my visitation, can I send a family member (like a grandparent) instead?  

When you are not able to visit with the child, but you still want to allow them to spend time with your family, you need to check for rules in the court order. Then, use those rules to help you discuss your idea with the other parent. When the court order does not have specific rules, it usually means that the parents can decide how they want to handle the visitation on their own.  

Can I refuse visitation with the other parent if I know that they keep leaving them with family during that time?  

Not unless your court order talks about who the child can stay with during visitation, and you find out the other parent is breaking that rule. Then, you can ask the court to enforce the order. 

If I don’t like the other parent’s family, can I refuse to allow the other parent to take our child around them? 

That depends. If your court order already has restrictions about who the child can be around, you can enforce the rules. If you worry about the child’s safety or well-being, and you want to add restrictions, then you can ask the court for a modification to change or update the rules.  

Do grandparents have their own visitation rights?  

In Texas, grandparent visitation rights only happen with a court order. So, the easiest way to keep being able to see a grandchild is to stay on good terms with the parents. Only one parent has to permit you. 

When courts order grandparent visitation, they do it because they decide it is in the child’s best interest. The court can grant permission if at least one of the parents still has their parental rights, the person making the request is an actual grandparent, and that child’s parent:   

  • has been in jail for at least three months before the grandparent asks the court for permission; 

  • is incompetent, meaning they cannot function in everyday life like average people (which could include mental illness or drug addictions); 

  • is dead; or 

  • does not have court-ordered access to the child. 

Grandparent visitation is discussed in sections 153.432 and 153.433 of the Texas Family Code. 

If a parent is away in the military, can they pick someone to visit with the child while they are gone? 

Yes, if the court determines the request is in the best interest of the child. The military parent can file for temporary orders to give permission for someone else to visit the child while they are away. Texas Family Code 153.705 explains this in more detail.  

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