Visitation

It is not uncommon for parents to disagree on who should have the children for the weekend, holidays and summer vacation. Children also may have conflicting ideas as to how visitation should be arranged. Along with sorting out child custody, visitation (parenting time) needs to be worked out in order to maximize agreement and minimize confusion between parents as well as children.

Texas statutes specifically address how visitation will be shared during weekends, holidays and the summer. The Texas Family Code also sets guidelines for potential situations that may arise regarding visitation.

In custody arrangements, the child will have a primary residence. The parent with whom the child resides most of the time is called the custodial parent, and in Texas statutes is referred to as the managing conservator. The parent with whom the child visits is the non-custodial parent and is referred to as the possessory conservator in Texas statutes.

You can view the all the Texas statutes on Visitation at (http://tlo2.tlc.state.tx.us/statutes/fa.toc.htm) Texas Legislature Online - Section on Family Code, Chapter 153, 311-317. While the section is very comprehensive and detailed, the following briefly summarizes some of the key points and may answer questions that parents have regarding visitation:

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Texas Child Visitation Calendar

Weekend Schedules

The Texas Family Code outlines a very specific January through December schedule for visitation. Generally, children stay with the non-custodial parent during the first, third and fifth weekends of the month. Weekend visitation begins at 6:00PM on Fridays and ends at 6:00PM on Sundays.

Holiday Schedules

Holidays are alternated between parents from year to year. For example, when one parent has the children for Christmas a certain year, then the other parent has them the next year. However, children stay with their fathers on Father’s Day and with their Mothers on Mother’s Day.

Summer Vacation Schedules

Summer vacations provide the non-custodial parent with extended visiting time and the custodial parent has first choice in planning vacation time. The non-custodial parent has until April 1st of every year to provide the custodial parent with a written notice regarding when visitation time will be spent with the child during the summer. Visitation may not begin earlier than when school is dismissed for summer vacation and may not end later than seven days before school starts again for the next year. If the custodial parent does not give notice by April 1st, then the visitation will automatically be assigned a starting date of 6:00 PM beginning July 1st and ending at 6:00 PM on July 31st.

Picking up the Child for Visitation

Usually, the non-custodial parent will pick up the child at the beginning of the visit at the home of the child’s primary residence, but if needed, the court can make other arrangements for a child to be picked up at another location.

Several Common Misconceptions Regarding Visitation

  • If the parent owing child support does not pay or is late on payments, then the other parent can deny visitation.

    Child support and visitation are two separate issues, and one has no legal bearing that would cancel out the other. Both parents could be held in contempt for violations of court orders – the parent denying visitation as well as the parent not paying child support. Being held in contempt can result in fines or possibly jail time.
  • Children are forced into visitation, even if they refuse it.

    The parent who has possession of the child should be supportive of the other parent and encourage the child to visit, along with making the child available for visits. Estranging the child from the other parent is harmful and highly frowned on by the courts. However, a situation may arise where the child has been encouraged to spend time with the other parent, but when the visiting parent arrives to pick up the child, the child refuses to go. In such instances the child should not be forced to go. The older the children the more their opinion is considered by the court in terms of custody and visitation.

Advantages of Using a Lawyer to Arrange Visitation

When a couple settles out of court, their lawyers can work out detailed visitation schedules that are tailored to the preferences of each parent and the children.

As lifestyles change, a visitation schedule may no longer suit parent’s and children’s needs. Visitation arrangements can be modified, but the new schedule must go through the court. An experienced family law attorney can assist you in drafting proposals for modification, which will then be submitted to the court for approval.

Regarding visitation, as with many other family law issues, obtaining legal advice, guidance, or legal services from an experienced attorney can help you become aware of all your options, ease the process, and resolve disagreements that disrupt you and your children’s lives.

Related website: http://www.thewrightlawyers.com

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