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The Ins and Outs of Child Visitation in Texas

Howdy there, fellow Texans and curious readers from afar! Picture this: you're navigating the rollercoaster of life, and then bam! You find yourself in the heart of Texas, wrangling with the ins and outs of child visitation in the Lone Star State. Well, partner, you're in for a rootin' tootin' good time as we ride through the dusty trails of family law right here in Texas!

Short Answer: Child visitation in Texas is like a rodeo - it's all about understanding the ropes and riding the twists and turns. So, why should you keep reading this hootin' blog? Well, we're here to lasso the complexities and bring you a jolly good yarn about child visitation, Texas style! From custody types to the nitty-gritty of visitation schedules, we've got the lowdown on it all. So, grab your hat, dust off those boots, and let's mosey on down the trail to discover the secrets of child visitation in the Lone Star State!

Buckle Up, Y'all: The Wild Ride of Child Visitation in Texas!

One of the most frequently disagreed on subjects by parents in divorce and child custody cases is who should be able to have the children with them and on what days of the week those visits should occur. This goes for normal, school day visits as well as holidays and other “special” times of the year.

No matter how agreeable you and your child’s other parent are on most subjects it is not always possible to come up with your own, makeshift visitation schedule. There are many subjects that must be sorted out in a child custody or divorce case and visitation is one of them.

Fortunately for Texas families, our State Legislature has created a guideline visitation schedule for weekends, holidays and Summer Vacation. Like any law, these guidelines are to be applied equally to all people but may not have the same impact (positively or negatively) on everyone in the same way.

Every family has questions or concerns about what a particular phrase in their orders means or what to do if [insert factual occurrence here] happens. The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC would like to share with you our thoughts and advice on this subject for parents.

Where will the child’s primary residence be?

The beginning to any visitation schedule or outline begins with where the child will reside primarily. Your final orders from your divorce or child custody case will state either that your child lives primarily with you or their other parent.

Whichever parent your child resides with primarily is known as the managing conservator or custodial parent. It would stand to reason then that the other parent is known as the non-custodial parent or possessory conservator.

Making this determination is essential because the custodial parent and the non custodial parents have different opportunities provided to them under the law to be able to have time to spend with their child.

Weekend Visitation

For the most part, children are able to spend the first, third and fifth weekends of every month with their non custodial parent. The visitation period begins at 6:00 p.m. on Friday and lasts until 6:00 p.m. on Sunday. Depending on your particular situation you are able to change those times as needed but as far as what the Texas Family Code provides for 6:00 p.m. is the pick-up and drop-off time for weekend visitation.

What about Holidays?

Holidays are alternated between parents on a yearly basis.

Part 1 - Christmas Break

This means that if you got Christmas Day as a period of visitation in 2016, your ex spouse will have the opportunity to have the child this year on Christmas Day. Christmas is split up into two parts. The first part begins at 6:00 p.m. on the day school lets out for the Christmas break and ends at 6:00 p.m. on December 28th.

Part 2 - Christmas Break

Part two of Christmas break runs from 6:00 p.m. on December 28th until 6:00 p.m. on the Sunday prior to school resuming its normal schedule. It is worthwhile to keep a copy of your most recent court orders handy so that you can reference any time and date requirements as needed.

Thanksgiving Break

Thanksgiving break, though longer than a weekend, is not split up into two holidays. You and your child’s other parent will alternate Thanksgiving holidays. No parent will be able to have visitation with the child on both Christmas and Thanksgiving in any given year.

Father’s or Mother’s Day

Finally, your child will be able to spend time with you on either Father’s or Mother’s Day as well, regardless of what the number of the weekend it is on a monthly basis.

Holidays are some of the most stressful times for parents who are no longer married to their child’s other parent. This means even in the best of situation it is not uncommon for our attorneys to receive phone calls from clients who are upset because their ex-spouse did not return the kids home on time as agreed to in their Divorce Decree.

A piece of advice would be to understand that the holidays bring about stresses and turmoil when it comes to trying to have as much time as possible with your. If you can be considerate of your child and your child’s other parent you should be able to escape the holiday season with some memories and no angry phone calls from your ex spouse.

Summer Vacation- Setting a schedule for your children’s time away from school

Summer vacation is one of the all time mot relaxing and care-free time periods in your child’s life. It is an opportunity to play, visit new places and maybe even attend a summer camp or other activity. A unique part of the summer for children whose parents are not living together is that the non custodial parent is able to exercise his or her own extended time period of visitation with their child.

The way it works is that as the non custodial parent, you would need to contact the custodial parent by April 1st to notify him or her of your intent to have your child spend the extended summer visitation with you.

Thirty days is the length of time most non custodial parents are awarded in a visitation order and the default time period for visitation is July 1- July 31 if no notice or insufficient notice is provided to the custodial parent. I always advice clients to provide notice by certified mail or via email, where you are able to get a “read receipt” that will show exactly when your ex-spouse reviewed the email.

Child Visitation in Texas: Navigating the Complex Landscape

When it comes to child visitation in Texas, it's essential to understand that this topic goes far beyond mere scheduling. It delves into various aspects of family law, including different custody arrangements, factors influencing visitation schedules, and legal processes that can modify or enforce these orders. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore all these facets and more, providing you with a deep understanding of child visitation in the Lone Star State.

Types of Child Custody

Child custody forms the foundation of any visitation arrangement. Texas recognizes various custody arrangements, each with its implications for visitation schedules. These include:

Sole Custody

Sole custody means that one parent has primary custody of the child, making most decisions about the child's upbringing. In such cases, visitation typically involves the non-custodial parent having scheduled visitation rights.

Joint Custody

Joint custody, or joint managing conservatorship, is when both parents share decision-making responsibilities regarding the child's life. In these cases, visitation schedules aim for shared parenting time to ensure both parents remain actively involved in the child's life.

Shared Custody

Shared custody arrangements are designed to divide parenting time as evenly as possible between both parents. The goal is to provide the child with a balanced upbringing with both parents.

Each of these custody arrangements has a significant impact on the child's visitation schedule, with shared and joint custody typically resulting in more equitable time-sharing.

Factors Influencing Visitation

When courts determine visitation schedules in Texas, they consider various factors to ensure the child's best interests. These factors may include:

  • Child's Age: The age of the child plays a crucial role in visitation decisions. Younger children may have shorter and more frequent visits, while older children may have longer, less frequent visits.
  • Parents' Work Schedules: The parents' work schedules are taken into account to create visitation schedules that align with their availability. Flexibility in work schedules can greatly influence the visitation arrangement.
  • Child's School Calendar: Visitation schedules often revolve around the child's school calendar. This ensures that the child's education remains a priority and that visitation doesn't disrupt school activities.
  • Child's Preferences: Depending on the child's age and maturity, their preferences may be considered when crafting visitation schedules. Older children may have more say in their visitation arrangements.

Understanding how these factors impact visitation schedules can help parents anticipate the court's decisions and work towards arrangements that benefit their child.

Modification of Visitation Orders

Visitation orders are not set in stone. Life circumstances can change, requiring modifications to visitation schedules. Reasons for modification may include:

  • Relocation: If one parent relocates to a different city or state, visitation orders may need adjustment to accommodate the new distance.
  • Change in Work Schedule: A significant change in a parent's work schedule may necessitate modifications to the visitation plan.
  • Child's Needs: As the child grows and their needs change, visitation schedules may require adjustments to address new requirements.

Modifying visitation orders involves a legal process where the court reviews the proposed changes and determines if they are in the child's best interests.

Supervised Visitation

In certain situations, the court may order supervised visitation to ensure the child's safety during visits. Supervised visitation involves a neutral third party who monitors and oversees the visitation.

This arrangement is typically ordered when there are concerns about a parent's behavior or potential risks to the child's well-being. The supervisor's role is to ensure that visits are safe and that both the child and visiting parent have a positive experience.

Long-Distance Visitation

Long-distance visitation poses unique challenges, especially in a vast state like Texas. When one parent lives far away from the child's primary residence, it's essential to establish a visitation plan that accommodates the distance.

This often involves extended visitation periods during school breaks and holidays, making it easier for the non-custodial parent to spend quality time with their child. Communication and cooperation between parents are crucial to making long-distance visitation work.

Enforcement of Visitation Orders

Ensuring compliance with visitation orders is vital for maintaining a stable and predictable routine for the child. When one parent refuses to adhere to the court-ordered visitation schedule, various legal mechanisms can be employed, including:

  • Contempt of Court: The court can hold the non-compliant parent in contempt, potentially resulting in fines or even jail time.
  • Penalties for Non-Compliance: Courts may impose penalties on the non-compliant parent, such as ordering makeup visits or requiring them to cover the other parent's legal fees.

It's crucial for parents to understand their rights and responsibilities under visitation orders and to seek legal recourse if those orders are not followed.

Parenting Plans

Creating a comprehensive parenting plan is a critical step in establishing clear visitation schedules and expectations. A well-crafted parenting plan should address:

  • Visitation Schedules: Clearly define when the child will spend time with each parent, including regular visitation, holidays, and special occasions.
  • Holiday Arrangements: Outline how holidays will be shared, specifying which holidays will be spent with each parent.
  • Dispute Resolution: Include a dispute resolution process to address conflicts that may arise regarding visitation or other parenting matters.
  • Communication: Establish guidelines for communication between parents and with the child during visitation periods.

Having a detailed parenting plan in place can help minimize conflicts and ensure that both parents are on the same page when it comes to visitation arrangements.

Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution

Resolving visitation disputes through litigation can be time-consuming and emotionally taxing. Mediation and alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods offer more amicable ways to reach agreements.

Mediation involves a neutral third party who helps parents communicate and negotiate visitation terms. ADR methods, such as collaborative law or arbitration, provide alternative avenues for resolving disputes outside the courtroom.

Opting for mediation or ADR can lead to more cooperative and mutually satisfactory visitation agreements.

Grandparent Visitation Rights

Grandparents in Texas may have the legal right to seek visitation with their grandchildren, but these rights are not automatic. The process for grandparents to obtain visitation rights involves proving that:

  • The Child's Parents Are Divorced or Separated: Grandparents can typically seek visitation if the child's parents are divorced, separated, or deceased.
  • Visitation Is in the Child's Best Interests: Grandparents must demonstrate that visitation with them is in the child's best interests.

Navigating the legal requirements for grandparent visitation rights can be complex, and consulting with an attorney is often advisable.

Visitation and Child Support

Child visitation and child support are closely interconnected in Texas family law. In most cases, the non-custodial parent pays child support to the custodial parent. Failure to pay child support does not grant the custodial parent the right to withhold visitation.

However, it's essential to understand that visitation and child support are separate legal issues. Non-payment of child support can result in legal consequences, but it should not be used as leverage to interfere with visitation rights.

Interference with Visitation

Interference with visitation rights is a serious matter in Texas. If one parent deliberately obstructs the other parent's court-ordered visitation, legal consequences can follow. These consequences may include:

  • Contempt of Court: The interfering parent may be held in contempt of court.
  • Compensatory Visitation: The court may order compensatory visitation to make up for the missed time.
  • Modification of Custody Orders: Repeated interference may lead to modifications in custody arrangements.

Parents should be aware of their rights and responsibilities regarding visitation and avoid interfering with the other parent's court-ordered time with the child.

Psychological Impact on Children

The visitation arrangements and conflicts between parents can have a significant psychological impact on children. Children may experience stress, anxiety, and confusion when dealing with visitation schedules and parental disputes.

To minimize these negative effects, parents can:

  • Maintain Consistency: Stick to the visitation schedule as closely as possible to provide stability for the child.
  • Communicate Openly: Encourage open and honest communication with the child about visitation and reassure them of your love and support.
  • Seek Professional Help: If necessary, consider involving a child psychologist or therapist to help the child cope with any emotional challenges.

Resources for Parents

Navigating child visitation in Texas can be emotionally challenging for parents. Fortunately, there are resources available to help:

  • Support Groups: Joining a support group for divorced or separated parents can provide valuable emotional support and guidance.
  • Counseling Services: Individual or family counseling can help parents and children address the emotional aspects of visitation and divorce.
  • Legal Assistance: Consulting with an experienced family law attorney is essential for understanding your rights and obligations in child visitation matters.

In Conclusion

So, folks, as we mosey on out of here, remember this: life may throw you some wild turns, but understanding child visitation in the Lone Star State is like knowing how to ride a bull - it's about finding balance, keeping your wits about you, and holding on tight!

Short Answer: Child visitation in Texas can be a rodeo, but with the right knowledge and a dash of Texan spirit, you'll wrangle it like a pro.

We hope you've enjoyed this Texas-sized journey through child visitation. Whether you're a seasoned Texan or a curious traveler, y'all now have the tools to handle child visitation in the great state of Texas. So, tip your hat, be kind to your ex, and remember, when it comes to child visitation, you've got the Texas know-how to ride tall in the saddle!

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Adobe Stock 62844981[2]If you want to know more about what you can do, CLICK the button below to get your FREE E-book: 16 Steps to Help You Plan & Prepare for Your Texas Divorce

Other Articles you may be interested in:

  1. Christmas Visitation Essentials for Texas Parents
  2. A Divorced Parent's Guide to Summer Visitation in Texas
  3. Grandparent rights in Texas: Visitation and Preparing for a case
  4. Texas Child Visitation Enforcement
  5. Visitation Tips for Recently Divorced Parents
  6. When Your Child's Extended Family Wants Visitation in Texas
  7. Grandparent Visitation Rights in Texas?
  8. Do I Have The Right To Know Where My Child Is During Visitation In Texas?
  9. Can You Enforce Visitation In Texas?
  10. Can a Parent Deny Visitation In Texas?
  11. What Happens If a Custodial Parent Violates a Visitation Court Order In Texas?
  12. When Can You Deny Visitation to the Non-custodial Parent in Texas?
  13. How Do You Enforce Child Visitation in Texas?
  14. What To Do if The Custodial Parent Refuses Visitation in Texas?
  15. Child Custody and visitation challenges for military families

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is Rule 11 in Custody in Texas?

Rule 11 in Texas custody cases refers to an agreement signed by both parents and their attorneys, indicating their mutual consent to the terms of a custody or visitation arrangement. It's a commitment to follow the agreed-upon plan.

How Can a Father Lose Visitation Rights in Texas?

In Texas, a father can lose visitation rights if a court determines that it's in the child's best interests due to factors such as neglect, abuse, or endangerment. Legal proceedings are involved, and a court order is required.

Who Pays for Supervised Visitation in Texas?

In Texas, the parent requesting supervised visitation typically bears the cost of supervision unless the court orders otherwise. The court may consider each party's financial situation when making this determination.

Can a Mother Refuse Visitation in Texas?

No, a mother cannot unilaterally refuse court-ordered visitation in Texas. If there are concerns about the child's safety or well-being during visitation, the appropriate legal channels should be used to address the issue.

What Happens When a Child Doesn't Want to Visit the Other Parent in Texas?

If a child refuses to visit the other parent in Texas, the custodial parent should consult with the other parent and consider addressing the issue through mediation or legal channels. A court may modify the visitation order if it's in the child's best interests.

Can Police Enforce Child Visitation Orders in Texas?

Yes, in Texas, police can enforce child visitation orders if one parent is violating the court-ordered visitation schedule. However, involving law enforcement should be a last resort, and it's advisable to consult with an attorney first.

What Are the Two Types of Visitation?

The two main types of visitation are scheduled visitation and supervised visitation. Scheduled visitation involves regular, planned visits according to a set schedule. Supervised visitation is court-ordered when there are concerns about the child's safety during visits.

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