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Proposed Texas law would give grandparents a legal right to see their grandchildren

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Critics worry that it infringes on parental rights

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Proposed changes to a law in Texas would make it easier for grandparents to get visitation rights to their grandchildren, even if the child's parents disapprove.

Here's what we know

The proposed changes would get rid of the current requirement that grandparents have an expert witness present testimony to back up their request for access, and a separate requirement that provides an exception only if the child's parent was dead, in jail, or legally declared to be incompetent.

Supporters of the bill defended it as being only about access, not about guardianship of a child. Texas resident Stephanie Wright told the Longview News-JournalLongview News-Journal that this bill would help them see their grandson, after daughter-in-law decided that they couldn't see him anymore "for no reason." Their son and daughter-in-law are describted as bieng "estranged." Wright said that the expert witnesses required by the current law could cost between $10,000 and $20,000.

But critics argue that there were cases where parents refuse access to grandchildren for valid reasons, and that this law would infringe on parental rights. Representatives of a Texas homeschool group reportedly particularly took issue with the term "possession of or access to" a grandchild.

According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, opponents of the bill say that it would allow "estranged in-laws" to see their grandchildren, regardless of the parents' concerns.

Grandparents would still have to prove that it is in the child's best interest for them to see their grandchild, but with the exceptions removed the law is open ended enough that it would likely be difficult for parents to prove that this was not the case.

The bill is currently pending in the commitee.

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