Children in Texas have a right to a relationship with both of their parents. But if the parents split up, they very likely won’t be able to see both of their parents as they did before. Many times, one parent is interested in a job opportunity that takes them to another city, and may reduce the time they are able to spend with their children. This changes the non custodial parent’s visitation schedule, and may make visitations more difficult, expensive, and/or time consuming.
If the custodial parent is the one moving, there are also court-ordered rules they will have to follow, and are now allowed to restrict the children from seeing the other parent.
Texas family law has what’s called a “possession orders,” that is, an order which spells out what time a child has to spend with each parent. For a child over the age of three, there are two options.
- A Standard Possession Order lists the times that a non-custodial parent can have with the child, if the parents don’t come to an agreement themselves. The judge looks at the best interests of the child.
If the parents are within 100 miles of each other, the noncustodial parent has the rights to the child:
- Weekend visits: 1st, 3rd and 5th weekends of every month
- Thursday evenings throughout the school year
- Alternate holidays, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas every other year
- During summer vacation, 30 days as an “extended period of time.”
If the parents are more than 100 miles apart, the arrangement changes to:
- One visitation weekend per month
- No weeknights during the school year
- The same alternate holiday schedule as Standard Possession
- A longer spring break and summer vacation period, 42 days
- If the parents find the Standard Possession Order to be unworkable, i.e., the other parent lives out of state and is unable to return to Texas to visit, you and your attorney can create a Modified Possession Order to accommodate the other parent if he or she consents. A Modified Possession Order takes your individual family’s situation under consideration and create one that meets your needs. This order can include:
- Alternating weeks
- Split weeks and/or alternating weekends
- Day-only visits
- Changing the managing conservator to the non-custodial parent
- Other arrangements that suit the family’s needs
Should your situation change, such as a new job in another area, and you need to change an existing possession order, you can also request a modification.
These orders are in accordance with Texas Family Code Chapter 153.313.
Children Under Three
A Standard Possession Order may be used for children younger than three, or a Modified Order, depending on the family’s needs. If the parents cannot agree on a schedule, a judge may issue an order, in accordance with Texas Family Code Section 153.254. The “best interest of the child” is not a factor in the decisions for children from birth to the age of three.
Should there be concerns for the safety of the child or children, a judge may order the non-custodial parent to have only supervised visits.
If there is concern of family violence or other harm to the child or children, a judge may also disallow the other parent to have any contact or visitation with them, even supervised. If this is a consideration for you, a family law attorney can help. Under Texas Family Code chapters 153.004 and 153.005, a judge must take any family violence into consideration when considering supervised visitation or denying visitation at all.
Visitation Rights Issues? Call Wendy L. Hart Today
Distance should not make a difference for a child’s relationship with either parent. If you need help with visitation arrangements, or need to change your current custody schedule, call us.
Wendy L. Hart is an experienced family law attorney Fort Worth, TX helping people throughout Tarrant County with visitation rights. We represent both men and women for both divorce and child custody issues. We’ll make sure you’re treated fairly, and will protect your interests and your children.