When I saw the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s March 10 front-page story “Measure would help grandparents gain visitation rights” shedding light on Texas grandparents seeking to gain the right to visit with their grandchildren, I started crying.
First, because finally the issue was getting attention — and then at the thought of a grandparent being denied the opportunity to visit with a grandchild.
The article was well-written, and I thank the reporter for presenting all sides of the issue.
I know all too well the experience of having been denied the right to see my grandchildren, which was my case, initially, after a nasty divorce and an ongoing custody battle between their parents. Prior to the divorce, I was allowed “at will” visitation with them since their birth.
Divorce is primarily when grandparents become alienated from their grandchildren, which was the situation in my case. However, at the last temporary custody hearing, the judge exercised his judicial discretion and awarded me my daughter’s visitation schedule (as right now she lives out of town), but this is only temporary and can change with the final court order.
It is the divorce and custody processes that oftentimes give rise to a level of anger between parents where the children suffer collateral damage and parents have no knowledge for and/or no regard for what’s in the best interest of the child.
HB 575 corrects a longstanding problem for grandparents trying to gain the right to seek visitation with their grandchildren through the court system, by lowering the legal standards the grandparent needs to meet in order to have “standing.”
Opponents of HB 575, such as the Texas Home School Association, argue the bill will infringe upon the rights of parents as the decision-makers, which is so far from the truth. As a grandparent, and at this stage in my life, I am not interested in raising my grandchildren. I don’t think any grandparent wants to have that responsibility late in their lives.
Raising my grandchildren’s parent was hard work enough. All I want to do is love them, share with them stories about my family as my grandparents did with me, make lasting memories and be that place where they feel safe and know that they matter(during difficult times) and send them back home.
I commend Rep. Harold Dutton, Jr., who is a grandfather himself, for his insight and willingness to introduce and sponsor HB 575.
Passage of this bill is but a first step. There still is a long way to go. According to most recent AARP statistics, in Texas there are approximately 634,000 children living in households with grandparents.
Grandparents are Important For Texas (G.I.F.T.). Grandparents have rights!