In the Family Law arena, the discussion of Grandparent Rights generally involves one or both of two types of cases. One of these is the right of the grandparents to seek to be named as a conservator of the children and possibly have full or substantially full possession of the children. The other involves the rights of the grandparents to seek some form of access to the children if it has been denied or a denial is threatened.
The rights of a grandparent to seek to have managing conservatorship of children in place of the parents are extremely limited. Not only are the odds of winning such a case highly dependent upon the facts of the case, the right to even bring the action is heavily regulated. In short, the law is designed to keep grandparents that simply think they could do a better job than the parents of their grandchildren from judicially interfering in the lives of the parents and grandchildren, in all but rare circumstances.
Grandparent Access to grandchildren is a much more common concept. One of the purposes of the law is to allow grandparents that have been cut off from access to their grandchildren by a mean-spirited, vindictive, or neglectful "surviving" spouse a vehicle through which the courts can protect the grandparent-grandchild relationship. The law is not limited to the case of a surviving spouse after the death of the child of the grandparents. It also has application in the case of a parent that has been incarcerated and can be plead even when neither of these circumstances is present.
It should be understood, however, that courts commonly take the position that a non-incarcerated, living parent can adequately protect the access rights of his or her parents and that no action of the court is needed. In simple terms, courts often believe that if a grandparent is not getting to see his or her grandchild enough, the matter should be taken up with the child of the grandparent.
Understanding the concepts of Grandparent Rights and the discovery needed to adequately prosecute such an action can be complicated. Seeking the help of a competent attorney is essential.