Texas Visitation Laws
A parent’s visitation or “possession schedule” with their children can greatly influence the depth and dynamics of the parent-child relationship. The attorneys at Goranson Bain Ausley are knowledgeable and skilled facilitators of productive discussions about what schedule works best for each client and their children.
As attorneys and advocates, we take the time to fully understand the needs of your children and each parents’ availability to care for them based on work schedules or other obligations. Most importantly, we focus on creative solutions for customized possession schedules that provide consistency and stability and will be the least disruptive to the children’s lives. We also recognize the difficulty in making life-changing decisions like determining the amount of time you spend away from your children, so we take the time to educate each of our clients concerning their possession options.
Many people are familiar with the “Standard Possession Order” provided by the Texas Family Code which is discussed in further detail below. This is because the Standard Possession Order is presumed to be the minimum amount of time that a joint managing conservator will have possession of their children, and the Courts often award possession according to this schedule.
However, the Standard Possession Order may not work for your family, and the Texas Family Code also allows parents to deviate from this schedule by agreement. If you are one of those families where the Standard Possession Order is unworkable, we will help you craft a schedule that does work for your family’s specific needs.
Texas is unique in that its laws provide for very specific periods of possession under the Standard Possession Order. These include:
- Visitation during the regular school term
- Holiday periods of possession
- Summer possession schedules
For more information, please review Standard Possession Orders in Texas.
In a divorce or child custody proceeding, each parent’s possession of and access to the children is established either through an agreement between both parties or through the Court’s ruling. “Possession” tends to refer to times of physical visitation with a child, while “access” is the term frequently used when discussing additional times for communication with a child, through talking on the phone, texting, video calling, etc. The Texas Family Code explains that the public policy of the State of Texas is “to encourage frequent contact between a child and each parent for periods of possession that optimize the development of a close and continuing relationship between each parent and child.” Therefore, visitation rights are almost always granted to the noncustodial parent unless there are concerns about the child’s safety while in their care.
After divorce, grandparents have questions about what their rights are in terms of seeing their grandchildren, especially if their child doesn’t have primary custody. Grandparents do have rights to visit their grandchildren if certain circumstances exist. For more information on Grandparent’s Rights, go here.
Sometimes parents are able to work together to develop a possession schedule that works for their family, but what happens when they cannot? If your co-parent is not permitting you to have the time that you want and deserve with your child, it is time to seek court intervention and request court-ordered visitation. If you do not have an underlying order, you must file a Petition in Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship in the District Court. If you have a prior order, but your current possession schedule has become unworkable, you may file a Petition to Modify the Parent-Child Relationship. In the event that you have a possession schedule, but the other parent is refusing to allow you to exercise your periods of possession, you must file a Motion for Enforcement of Possession and Access. If you prevail on your motion for enforcement, you may be awarded make-up periods of possession and attorney’s fees for having to file an enforcement.
Over time, circumstances may change that would warrant a modification to your visitation schedule. A Goranson Bain Ausley attorney can help you create a schedule with new terms that work for everyone. To learn more about Post-Judgment Modifications, visit our page.
If you are having trouble exercising your visitation rights, you may need the assistance of an attorney to file an enforcement against the other parent. You can learn more about Post-Judgment Enforcement here.
While in most cases, the Court establishes a possession schedule for both parents, there are select circumstances where visitation can be restricted or denied, if such visitation would adversely affect the physical health or emotional well-being of the child.
The following are a few examples of when the Court may restrict or deny a parent’s periods of possession on the following grounds:
- If the parent has a history of abuse.
- If the parent has substance abuse issues.
- If the Court believes that the parent may kidnap the child.
If a court-ordered possession schedule is in place, parents must abide by its terms and cannot deny the other parent’s periods of possession. If you wish to change the terms of the possession schedule, we advise you to look into post-judgment modification and enforcement services.
At Goranson Bain Ausley, our experienced family law attorneys understand that visitation time is precious to parents and family members. Our trusted attorneys are here to help you with your visitation right needs with solution-oriented legal advice that will help you arrive at the best possible visitation arrangement for your family. Contact our Austin, Plano, or Dallas office today.