If you have been through child custody or divorce cases, one of the most rewarding aspects of that whole process for you was likely confirming the times, dates, and locations that you will be able to spend time with your children. So much is up in the air during the case, and our clients have said that the worst part is not knowing what the future will hold for you and your children. You've dedicated your life to raising a child, and then because of an issue between you and their other parent, all of that is in jeopardy.
Visitation, possession, and access are among the most highly contentious and litigated issues in child custody or divorce. The reasons for this are many, but perhaps the most important is that people, such as yourself, love their children and want to fight for them.
In reality, most folks walk out of a family law case with close to a "50/50" split with the other parent in terms of time. Still, if an extra weekend or holiday can be negotiated, then, by all means, you or any other parent would likely do what it takes to get that spare time.
When the case is done, but the headaches are not.
Suppose, then, that you have concluded your divorce case and the first weekend that you would be able to exercise visitation with your child is upcoming. You arrive at your ex-spouse's home at 6:00 p.m. to pick up your daughter, but the knocks at the door have no response.
Texts to your ex-spouse's phone go unanswered. You are left disappointed, frustrated, and angry. You begin to wonder if this will become a habit or regular occurrence. Do you have options to make sure this doesn't happen again?
An Enforcement Case in Texas family law court
There is a legal remedy to the problem you encountered in the above scenario. An enforcement case allows you to file a lawsuit against your ex-spouse for violating the terms of your Divorce Decree as it pertains to visitation. Let's examine what it means to be denied visitation.
It is not as simple as filing a lawsuit once you don't get to see your child at the pre-designated time. There are rules in place that you must follow to do so and to help ensure your success in court.
For instance, if your ex-spouse texts you fifteen minutes before the scheduled start of your visitation period to say that he will not be coming to drop your child off, that alone does not count as a denial of visitation.
You must be physically present at the drop-off/pick-up location stated in your court order. Even if you know that your ex-spouse and child will not be there waiting on you, this is the case. It may sound silly, but this is what you will need to do to have this count as a legitimate denial of visitation.
The reason for this is pretty simple- if you are not present at that spot at the correct time, nobody will be able to testify to the judge that your visitation was denied. You won't be able to because you were not physically there. Your spouse will not have to testify against his interests either, so you will have no evidence to present to the judge.
The judge will need evidence regarding a violation of a court order, and the text you received will not suffice. How can you be sure that you have your "ducks in a row" as far as setting yourself up for success in an enforcement case?
A "Proper" Denial of Visitation
Correct Place / Correct Time
First and foremost, you will need to make sure that you are picking your child up at:
- the right time, date and
For this reason, you will need to have a copy of the order signed by the judge handy in your home. It's not good enough to have a draft version that your attorney sent you early on in the drafting process.
Items could have been changed or added. The judge's signature indicates that they signed the final version.
Confirm the Date, Time, & Location
Secondly, once you have confirmed the date, time, and location for your child's pick up, arrive at the site in advance and wait if necessary.
Knock on the door a few times and make sure that anyone in the home knows that you are present and ready to pick up your child. Don't just sit in your car in front of the house.
Get Evidence that You Were There
If you have seen no activity within the house, go to a fast-food restaurant nearby and buy something. No, I'm not trying to give you dietary advice, but I am trying to get you to create some evidence that you were in the area at the time stated in your Divorce Decree, ready to pick up your child.
The receipt from your purchase of the snack food will show the date, time, and location for the purchase. If that doesn't appeal to you, bring a witness with you to pick up your child- as long as your Divorce Decree does not bar this.
Start and Keep a Visitation Journal
Finally, document the denial of visitation in a journal or log after doing the above steps.
Be specific about the date, time, and location of the failed to drop off/pick up. While this may seem tedious at the time, it will be crucially crucial down the line when you attempt to file a lawsuit to ensure these sorts of things don't happen to you again.
Questions about the documentation of visitation denials? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, thank you for taking the time to read our blog post on this critical subject. If you would like clarification or additional details about anything you've read today, please do not hesitate to contact our office. A free-of-charge consultation with one of our licensed family law attorneys is available six days a week.
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"
If you want to know more about how to prepare, CLICK the button below to get your FREE E-book: "13 Dirty Tricks to Watch Out For in Your Texas Divorce, and How to Counter Them" Today!"
Other Articles you may be interested in:
- Reviewing your case history is crucial to success in an enforcement case
- Texas Family Law Court: Enforcement Actions
- How much will your child support enforcement case cost?
- The Steps of an Enforcement Case in Texas family law court
- Preparing for an Enforcement case in Texas
- Defending against an Enforcement Action in Texas
- Enforcement Suits in Texas Family Law, Part Five
- Enforcement Suits in Texas Family Law, Part Four
- Enforcement Suits in Texas Family Law, Part Three
- Enforcement Suits in Texas Family Law, Part Two
- Enforcement Suits in Texas Family Law: An Overview
- Child Support Enforcement Defense - Act Sooner Rather than Later
- Can my Texas Driver's License Be Suspended for Not paying Child Support?
Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Enforcement Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding order enforcement, it's essential to speak with one of our Houston, TX EnforcementLawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our enforcement lawyers in Houston, TX, are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, handles enforcement cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County, and Waller County.