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Grandparent Custody

In the Interest of M.P.B., a Child, the Texas appellate court out of Dallas heard a case where the mother and the father where appointed joint managing conservators of the child, with the mother as the primary. The mother and the child lived with the grandmother for a short time in an apartment. The father moved to California and was largely absent.

When the child was 20 months old the mother died in a fire. The Grandmother filed suit seeking custody and the father filed a habeas corpus action, seeking possession of the child. The trial court denied the habeas writ and the father filed a counter action seeking custody.

The father also filed a motion to dismiss Grandmother's suit based on her lack of standing. In the meantime, the Grandmother's ex-husband and his new wife intervened and sought grandparent visitation. The father filed a jury trial demand and also sought to continue a trial setting so he could obtain a social study. The father's motion for a continuance was granted.

The Court of Appeals determined that the Grandmother's extended possession of at least a six month period was sufficient to give her standing under the family code. The Court of Appeals further determined that the father did not preserve any issue regarding the issue of the denial of a jury trial because he did not object at the bench trial and the record showed his request for a jury was voluntarily withdrawn. As to the issue of custody, the Court of Appeals found more than sufficient evidence to support award of primary conservatorship to the Grandmother based on the father's extensive history of drug use and domestic violence, and the limited time he had spent with the child after moving to California.

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