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Child custody: Grandparents appeal to lawmakers for visitation

When issues surrounding child custody arise, people generally think of how parents will be affected. Of course, there are other people in children's lives that may also be affected by divorce and child custody agreements, including grandparents. When a divorce occurs, or two parents are not in a relationship with one another, grandparents may struggle to determine where they fit in the lives of their grandchildren. A group of Texas grandparents recently appealed to state lawmakers, requesting changes in the law that would strengthen their rights to obtain visitation.

State Representative Harold Dutton Jr. has put forth a bill in the Texas House of Representatives that would make grandparents' ability to see their grandchildren easier. Current law states that grandparent visitation is only granted if one parent is dead, in prison, mentally incapacitated or incompetent or otherwise not a part of the child's life. The grandparent must also provide evidence that the child's life will be negatively impacted without grandparent visitation and an expert witness has to testify on the grandparent's behalf. The new law only requires evidence of impact to the child's life.

Opponents of the law are concerned that grandparents who have a great deal of wealth will be able to pursue litigation more easily than other, less well-off family members of the child. They are concerned that this new legislation could be used in a detrimental way. Grandparents who spoke to state lawmakers reminded them that they do not wish to obtain custody of their beloved grandchildren, but that they simply want to be part of the children's lives.

Though the future of this bill is uncertain, it emphasizes how important it is for those who love a child to be part of his or her life. Texas grandparents who are unsure of their rights in relation to visitation and child custody orders may want to speak with a family law attorney. It may help a great deal to have someone with the experience in this area of the law to represent them.

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