When most people have a child, there’s typically no expectation that they’ll have to one day worry about a visitation agreement. Unfortunately, this is common in today’s world. Divorce rates remain at historic highs, and the rate of children born to unwed parents has also greatly increased over time. Regardless of what situation you find yourself in, however, Texas courts will typically grant child visitation rights to a non-custodial parent. Of course, this is far from guaranteed. Family law in Texas is quite complex, so if you find yourself in such a situation, you may benefit from having a visitation lawyer in Houston on your side.
At Von Dohlen Law Firm, we understand that issues involving children are complicated. Even when two parents agree on everything, the legal process of establishing rights is oftentimes difficult to navigate. Unfortunately, it’s frequently the case that a child’s parents won’t agree. Whether you get along with your former partner or not, though, child visitation rights are still granted in our state except in extreme circumstances. Knowing how to navigate this process and assert your rights can be difficult, so contact Von Dohlen Law Firm today to schedule a consultation and get a better understanding of your rights.
Who Gets Visitation, and Who Gets Child Custody?
Even though Texas tries hard to simplify family law issues, the legalities behind a parent-child relationship are still sometimes complicated. For instance, there are always questions regarding who gets custody and who gets visitation even when both parents have rights over their child. In most cases, former partners will share legal custody. This is known as a joint conservatorship. In such a situation, both parents will have a say when making important decisions in a child’s life. Some of these decisions may be granted directly to one person, but the other parent still typically has some control over their child’s life.
It’s important to note, however, that conservatorship is not the same as physical custody. In Texas, physical custody is known as “possession and access.” In most cases, one parent will be designated as the custodial parent. This doesn’t mean they can make all the decisions. In these situations, a visitation schedule will usually be created to ensure the other parent has access to their child. It’s rare in our state for one parent to have no child visitation rights, but this can occur in instances where domestic violence, neglect, drug use, or other issues have occurred. Even in many of these cases, though, the court will merely require supervised visitation.
What If One Parent Has Sole Custody?
If you’ve ever spoken to Houston child visitation lawyers, they’ve likely informed you just how rare sole custody orders are in Texas. The Lone Star State believes that the best interests of children are served when both parents are involved in their lives. When sole custody is awarded to one individual to the exclusion of the other parent, it’s typically because the courts view the non-custodial parent as a danger to the child. Just like when a parent serves as the primary custodial guardian, though, awarding sole custody does not immediately dictate that the other parent will have no visitation.
In fact, the awarding of sole custody doesn’t even mean that supervised visitation will be required when the other parent spends time with their child. That’s because every case has its own unique set of circumstances. When judges make decisions on these issues, they ensure that the best interests of the child are their primary focus. A family law attorney in Houston can help you better understand the nuances of our state laws, but in all cases, it’s better if you can come to a visitation arrangement on your own. Once you put the matter into the hands of state courts, you’ve essentially relinquished all control of the situation.
What Is Supervised Visitation?
If the judge orders that one parent can only have supervised visitation, there are more issues to consider than merely setting up a schedule. That’s because any time the parent spends with their child will need to be supervised by a third party. This party will often be decided during the custody case itself, but it’s typically a family member or a natural third party. In some instances, an agency may even be used to supervise these visits. In such a situation, it’s typically the non-custodial parent who has to pay the agency for their services.
Supervised visitation is typically only ordered when a child’s safety is in question. You’ll see this repeated many times throughout this guide, but these decisions are always made in the best interest of the child. Supervised visitation is an extreme step, but it’s far from the most extreme. In fact, a judge could order that a parent have no access to a child whatsoever. This happens when the courts view visitation time — even when supervised — as a detriment to the child’s emotional or physical safety. Many factors go into such a decision, but if you’re worried that this may be an outcome, you should contact a visitation lawyer in Houston today.
How Do You Create Visitation Schedules?
Fortunately for parents and their children, creating a visitation schedule isn’t difficult. This is particularly the case if the former partners can work together and come up with a parenting agreement on their own. They can specify when the child will spend time with each of their parents. The child will typically spend more time at their primary residence — which is chosen by the primary managing conservator — but the parties involved will create whatever schedule they want. An attorney-client relationship can still prove invaluable in such a situation, though, since a court can reject any agreement they deem inappropriate.
When two parents can’t agree, Texas law is fairly clear on visitation. For instance, the non-custodial parent will have the right to possession on every month’s first, third, and fifth weekends. This is the case if the parent lives within 100 miles of the child’s primary residence. If the non-custodial parent lives more than 100 miles away, their weekends could be reduced to just once a month. These are just a few of the requirements laid out by Texas statutes, and a judge will have a lot of leeway in applying the law. This is why speaking with Houston child visitation lawyers is in your best interest if you can’t reach an agreement with your child’s other parent.
Can Visitation Schedules Be Modified?
Once a visitation schedule has been established, modification is an option. If you and the other parent reach an agreement on your own, going back to court to change specifics can be a straightforward process. In fact, visitation lawyers can often file the necessary legal documents without you ever having to step foot in a courthouse. If you’re in a situation where there’s disagreement over such a modification, however, you’ll likely need to present your argument to a judge. In such situations, an experienced legal professional can prove invaluable.
To modify things like child support, it’s typically necessary to show that a substantial change has occurred in a parent’s life. For instance, perhaps the father lost their job or the mother has greatly increased her earning capacity. However, modifications of visitation schedules often will not require that a significant change has occurred. If the custodial guardian and the other parent agree on the change, the process is simple. If they go to court, a judge will decide if modifying the schedule is ideal. In some situations, this decision can be made simply by the other parent refusing to show up to court.
If you’re trying to modify a visitation schedule without the other parent’s consent, though, you’ll still need to present a compelling case as to why. For instance, a parent who was only entrusted with supervised visitation can show why this is no longer necessary (e.g., they’re no longer on drugs). It’s also possible to gain additional visitation — or even custody — by showing that the custodial parent is no longer fit to raise the child. As always, every case is unique and can have varying outcomes. This is why speaking with a visitation attorney in Houston is always a good start.
Contact a Visitation Lawyer in Houston Today
Family law is rarely as clear-cut as we might hope for. Custody and visitation issues are often complex even when the state has established legal parentage for a child. As with most matters in family law, though, things are much simpler when both parties can reach an agreement. Two parents or their visitation lawyers could obviously fight it out in court, but this creates stress and can become extremely costly. Of course, sometimes disagreements leave no other option. Regardless of the situation you’ve found yourself in, however, a Houston family law attorney can help you decide the best way to move forward.
At Von Dohlen Law Firm, we strive to make these issues as simple as possible. When people hear terms like “supervised visitation,” “sole custody,” and “court order,” they automatically assume the worse. However, it’s important to remember that these are all common legal outcomes. In fact, any visitation agreements made by parents will become court orders once they’re finalized. Still, we understand that these are complex matters that you want to get right the first time around. That’s why you can speak directly to a visitation lawyer in Houston by reaching out to our law office today. Contact us at (713) 844-8396 to schedule a consultation. We’re ready to help.