Texas family courts have one goal in mind: the best interest of the children. Because children do best with relationships with both parents, the court encourages children to spend time with both. Visitation schedules, called possession schedules in Texas, are intended to ensure that children have as much time as they can with both parents. Parents can develop schedules that take into consideration, within reason, their child’s wishes.
Sometimes, children do not want to spend time with the other parent. No amount of cajoling can get them to change their mind. However, children do not have control over changing a court order. Only a judge can do that.
What Happens When You Violate A Texas Child Custody Court Order?
We’ve blogged previously about what happens when you violate this scheduling agreement order. A parent who violates the court order can be fined as much as $10,000 and sentenced to jail for up to two years.
Parents have the right to work together to create a schedule that works for both parents as well as the children. However, if one or both parents cannot come to an agreement, the court will make that decision for them. This may or may not work well for anyone. At that point, the parents will have to go back to court to request a modification of the court order.
When The Child Says No
For whatever reason, many parents find themselves with a child or children who absolutely refuse to go visit the other parent. While there may be legitimate reasons for their refusal, the truth is that the court order does not care unless there is evidence of some form of negative behavior towards the child. A child is required to visit the other parent on schedule in accordance with the order irrespective of their own personal wishes.
Law enforcement can get involved but generally do not. Their usual comment is that the possession order and schedule are strictly a civil matter, and they do not interfere in civil matters.
In Texas, some judges will speak with a child over the age of 11 to ask about their wishes. However, the judge is not required to take that into consideration. The judge can consider the child’s wishes when making decisions, but it’s not part of the process.
A child who is dissatisfied with his or her parents’ arrangements and court order generally have no say in the matter. Parents are required to cooperate with these parental visits until the child turns 18 unless the child becomes emancipated. Until then, the child has no right to refuse visitation.
If you are facing a child who rebuffs, consider asking what he or she would do if you went to prison for two years because they refused the visit. In that case, they would have to live with the other parent full time instead of regularly scheduled visits.
Reasons Why A Child May Refuse
Children may refuse to visit their other parents for any number of reasons. The five-year-old who looked forward to visits with the other parent may hate visiting now that he or she is 15. Understandably, teenagers react differently than younger children.
However, a child may have a more serious reason for refusing to visit the other parent. If the other parent mistreats the child or pushes the child into any type of danger, a child who is fearful of the other parent should notify you so that you can ask questions, speak with your family law attorney, and possibly ask for an investigation if needed.
A parent who believes their child is in some form of danger, is neglected, or is being mistreated by the other parent should take the allegations seriously. If the allegations are proven to be true, supervised visits may be requested and ultimately a court order will be made to reflect any change. Remember, a parent cannot, by law, simply stop cooperation with an existing court order for child custody just because the child refuses to visit the other parent according to the schedule.
Let Fort Worth’s Compassionate Family Law Attorney Help With Custody Issues
Texas children have a right to have a relationship with both of their parents throughout their lives, and parents have a right to create a parenting plan that works for everyone. Plans can be revisited and modified over the course of time.
Wendy L. Hart is an experienced family law attorney helping people throughout Tarrant County with visitation rights. We represent both men and women in family law cases. We’ll make sure you’re treated fairly and will protect your interests and your children.