Visitation, or, as Texas calls it, “possession,” can be a contentious and misunderstood part of the divorce process. Unrealistic expectations abound, and it’s easy for either parent to get confused.
A better understanding of visitation will help you during and after the divorce. It may help you offer or recognize a workable visitation settlement. It may also help you avoid legal pitfalls that can spring up after the divorce order is signed.
How much visitation time will the non-possessing conservator receive?
The Texas Family Code states that absent any safety concerns, both parents should receive “frequent and continuing” time with their children. The State offers a Standard Visitation Schedule, which the court typically uses as its guideline when parents can’t agree.
The way the agreement is structured depends on how close the parents live to each other. For example, if you live less than 100 miles apart the non-possessing conservator can expect four weekends a month by default, with a caveat that the possessing conservator may request one weekend in a month with written notice. If you live more than 100 miles away you may only get one weekend a month, but you may get over a month of extended summer visitation.
Holidays usually alternate in both cases, as do birthdays.
Are there any special rules I should be aware of?
Yes. One is that on many occasions one parent will need to give the other parent notice to claim visitation time or to make modifications to it.
Regardless of who has possession on the child’s birthday that year, the other parent may always spend at least a couple of hours with that child on his or her birthday.
Be sure to read your court-ordered visitation schedule and refer to it often, so that you are aware of any other rules or regulations that might affect your parenting time.
Can I refuse visitation if my ex-spouse is not paying child support?
No. For better or for worse, those are two separate legal issues. If your ex is not paying child support you need to ask the court to enforce that order. But if you’re not cooperating with visitation the court can enforce court orders on you to do so.
Must our divorce agreement use the Standard Visitation Schedule?
No. If you and your spouse can agree on a fair and reasonable schedule that’s within the best interests of the child you can structure it in any way that makes sense for your family.
You should still consult the standard. It will offer a guideline for determining a reasonable amount of time for each parent to spend with the child.
How can I stop my ex from getting child-visitation privileges?
Only if you can prove the other parent is incapable of interacting with the child safely. That’s the only way “zero visitation” would ever be under consideration. Even then, the court is far more likely to award supervised visitation.
What is supervised visitation?
You may not want your ex hovering over you and your child, but not to worry: Your ex won’t be the one supervising. Rather, a supervised visitation specialist will watch over you and your child. You can find one in the Access and Visitation Directory maintained by the Texas Attorney General’s office.
This professional is trained in how they ensure the child is kept safe without interfering with your ability to foster an appropriate relationship with that child.
Can grandparents get court-ordered visitation?
Not unless neither parent is incapable of interacting with the child safely. Barring special circumstances, the court assumes the child’s parents will make decisions about whether and when grandparents will be included in his or her life.
Click here for more information about grandparents’ rights.
Other questions about child visitation in Texas?
Contact Evans Family Law Group in Austin today.