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In Texas, is it legal for my child’s mother to keep them from me?

They say that knowledge is power. We hear this all the time in regard to a number of different subjects in our daily lives. Everybody wants to be in the know and no one wants to be without information. I think this overall feeling that information is power and critical to our daily lives has been heightened during the coronavirus pandemic. After dealing with this issue for around five months many of us who are curious about the subject and concerned about our health and those around us have found information sources that we believe are objective and honest. As a result, we have sought out information both to educate ourselves and to inform the decisions that we make on a daily basis with our families. 

When we talk about access to information, what we leave out is the second part of that equation. namely, that the information we have at our disposal is only as good as what we can actually do with that information. If I told you that I could sell you the most amazing vehicle with the biggest most powerful engine in the world but that the energy generated by the engine couldn't be transferred to the rear wheels of the vehicle then you likely wouldn't be too interested in making that purchase. The powerful engine is pointless if it can't get you anywhere. This is what I like to think in regard to information as well. If you possess all the good information in the world if you can't translate that information into actions that are beneficial for you and your family, then the information really hasn't helped you much at all. 

The subject of child custody is one that is sensitive for many parents in our area. As a result of a divorce or child custody case, you may have ended up with what is known as a standard possession order which enables you to be in possession of your child during certain defined periods of the year. Although we have seen some disruption in this regard due to the coronavirus pandemic hopefully we are now shifting into a time period of more normalcy as far as parents being able to spend time with their kids. If you had been denied visitation Earlier in the year due to the pandemic, then I hope that you and your co-arent have been able to work out make up visitation sessions with one another in the months that followed the lockdowns. 

However, you may be running into an issue where your co-parent has prevented you from seeing your child for an extended period of time. It may be related to the coronavirus pandemic but, then again, it may be completely unrelated to the pandemic. Parents have been denied Visitation with their children for many reasons since the beginning of separated parents and children. Long after the coronavirus is a memory for us denials of Visitation with your children May still occur if you don't take action against it now. Unfortunately, denial of visitation time with your kids is not something that you can call the police on or have a judge come to your house and being there gavel in the face of your co-parent. Father, you have to take matters into your own hands. 

The best way to take matters into your own hands is not to do something drastic or aggressive towards your child's mother. What you should do is learn as much as you can about this subject and then take action to protect your right to build and maintain a relationship with your child. In short, it is not allowed for your co-parent to deny your time with your child wrongfully. However, in order for you to protect those rights and defend the relationship that you have with your child you need to be aware of wrongful Visitation denies and what they need in the context of a child custody situation.

What if your child's mother is denying your child right now? 

Let's assume that you are the father of a young child and that child's mother has not allowed you to see the child in weeks. You may be married child father or not and you may have a good relationship with your child or not. Either way you have not been able to see your child in some weeks due to any number of circumstances. You have asked your child mother to see your child, but she has refused giving you a body list of reasons why it is not a good time for you to see your son or daughter. Is this allowed under the law? 

Well, technically, no it is not. State of Texas believes that both parents, absent other circumstances, should be able to engage in meaningful relationship building with their children. This means that not only should you be able to spend time with your children, but you should also be able to contribute monetarily to their upbringing and engage in Decision making for your child. Both parents, regardless of their gender, or any position to be able to take advantage of these rights. It does not matter if you are the mother or the father under child the law does not give superior rights to a mother just because she is the woman. 

However, in actuality, unless you move to defend and enforce your rights provided to you under state law you will have difficulty in trying to assert those rights in the real world. The reason for this is due to circumstances that we've already discussed. The fact is that there is no police force, judicial body or group of attorneys ensure that your rights to spend time with your children are maintained. It is up to you to take advantage of those rights and to defend them. 

In traditional circumstances, to defend your right to spend time with your child. I say this because in the traditional, nuclear family parents were married and lived in the same house in that was how the relationship persisted throughout time. However, for a range of different reasons, we find ourselves in different times in 2020. Families are more willing to engage in unique and nontraditional arrangements as far as rearing children in this can lead to circumstances where you are parental rights may be taking advantage of. The more separation you have with your child and the more diff physical distance between you creates an opportunity for difficulties in this regard. 

If you have never been before a family court and do not have family court orders impacting your relationship to your children, then you have decisions to make about how to proceed if you are being denied time with your child. You may be reticent or hesitant to take your case before a judge. This is completely understandable given the time, cost and general uneasiness people feel one going to court. No one enjoys going before a judge very disconcerting experience. On the other hand, to identify what other options you have to take advantage of if you do want to avoid going to court in order to have these visitation issues addressed. 

The best advice that I can give you when it comes to addressing problems of wrongful visitation denial is to speak to your co-parents about them as directly as you are getting book, I understand that every family is different, and every relationship is different. You may not be in a position to speak into this whole thing it's like an address the concerns regarding visitation denials. However, If that is truly the case and you are not able to speak with your co-parent about visitation denials then you may find that going to court is your best option. 

Think about it in terms like this. If you have gone weeks without speaking to your co-parent and even longer without seeing your child, then you have to have a very serious belief that that trend is going to change through dialogue in order to not consider filing a suit affecting the parent child relationship.  Consider how realistic it is for you to be able to be able to work out these issues with your co-parent directly rather than having a judge in the legal system intervening.

The final point I would make in attempting to negotiate a visitation agreement with your co-parent directly without involving the courts would be that at the drop of a hat, your co-parent can violate your agreement without any legal recourse for you. Even if you all have meaningful discussions and come up with a visitation agreement that suits both of you, either one of you can violate that agreement at any time without any legal repercussions. Just because you both have agreed to something and even signed your names to it does not mean that you can go to court and seek to have that arrangement enforced by a judge. 

On the contrary, only a valid court order signed by a judge may be enforced in a family law court. Otherwise, all the efforts you made to engage in meaningful and honest discussion with your co-parent will be for naught. This doesn't mean you did anything wrong or that you are foolish to try to do things this way. What it does mean is that unless you have a court order signed by a judge it cannot then be enforced in any court. 

The decision to file a child custody case in order to enforce your parental rights 

ultimately, you may find that you have a need to file a child custody case in the event that your co-parent is not allowing you to visit with your child. This does not mean that you have it out for your co-parent or that you are seeking to start a war over custody. What it does mean Is that you value the relationship with your child, that you love him or her in that you are serious about building a relationship with him or her. If you are not able to successfully negotiate a visitation schedule that suits all of you then the best option is to file a lawsuit to do so. 

The specific type of lawsuit that you will be filing is called a suit affecting the parent child relationship. This is a child custody case for parents who have never been married. It will seek to establish a visitation schedule, conservatorships rights and duties as well as child support. Rather than coming up with these agreements in a piece meal fashion with your co-parent and run the risk of them not being enforced by a family court judge you can go to court and get all these issues taken care of in one case. On top of that, these orders are enforceable in the future should either party violate them. 

So, to answer the question that I posed in the title to this blog post: no, your child's mother does not have the right to deny you Visitation with your child in most any circumstance. However, that does not mean That this will translate into your being able to see your child with any great frequency unless you step up to the plate and take action to defend your rights as a parent in Texas. Sometimes you will be able to negotiate successfully with your child's mother regarding a Visitation schedule, conservatorships rights division as well as child support. However, if you are unsuccessful in working directly with your co-parent on this subject, you should expect to need to file a lawsuit in family court seeking to establish a possession schedule and all of the other components to a typical parent child relationship. 

Questions about the information contained in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone and via video. These consultations are a great opportunity for you and your family to learn more about Texas family law and about how our office is best suited to help you and your family and whatever circumstance you find yourselves in related to Texas family law. 


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