As a San Antonio divorce attorney, I have heard of all sorts of threats made between spouses. One of the most common threats I hear being made is one parent threatening that they will make sure the leaving spouse will never see their kids again. Is this a valid threat? Typically, in Texas, the answer is NO. In Texas, if you are a parent, you typically have rights and those rights are presumed to be yours. What this means, is that your spouse would have to prove that you are undeserving of those rights. In Texas, courts look at kids in two aspects: visitation and decision making.
With the first aspect of parenting (decision making) we are talking about your rights to make decisions over:
- The right to consent to medical, dental and surgical treatment involving invasive procedures;
- The right to consent to psychiatric and psychological procedures;
- The right to represent the child in legal action and to make other decisions of substantial legal significance concerning the child;
- The right to consent to marriage and to enlistment in the armed forces of the United States;
- The right to make decisions concerning the child’s education;
- The right to the services and earnings of a child’s education;
- The right except when a guardian of the child’s estate or a guardian ad litem has been appointed for the child, the right to act as an agent of the child in relation to the child’s estate if the child’s action is required by a state, the United States, or a foreign government;
- The right to receive information from the other conservator of the child concerning the health education and welfare of the child;
- The right to confer with the other parent to the extent possible before making a decision concerning the health, education and welfare of the child;
- The right of access to medical, dental , psychological, and educational records of the child;
- The right to consult with school officials concerning the child’s welfare and educational status, including school activities;
- The right to attend school activities;
- The right to be designated on the child’s records as a person to be contacted in the event of an emergency;
- The right to consent to medical, dental, and surgical treatment during an emergency involving a
In order for you to lose your rights to make decisions regarding your child, your spouse would have to prove that you are unfit and unable to make those decisions. That is really hard to prove. The presumption when you walk into court, is that you should share those decision making rights equally and independently. For example, as a San Antonio divorce attorney, one of my examples I use with my clients is that on your time, you can take them to the dentist. Then, when it is the other parents time with your child, if they want to take them to the dentist, they can as well. Your time, your decision.
Now, with the second aspect of parenting…visitation time. It would be an extreme case if you never got to see your kids. Even parents that are guilty of neglect, drug usage, or even family violence will get some form of visitation (typically supervised). So, to say that you will never see your kids is typically a big threat with no real merit. Only in extreme cases would there be no visitation. And frankly, I have only seen that happen one time and the case was one of the most horrific I have had to deal with as a San Antonio Divorce Attorney.
Visitation time is always focused around what is best for your child. My blog that discusses custody cases goes into more detail about what courts look at when deciding custody. These same factors are used to decide on visitation. Speaking as a San Antonio divorce attorney, if you are being threatened that you will never see your kids again, you need a good lawyer to represent you to protect you and your kids. Make sure you get in touch with a lawyer immediately if you are being threatened. Nothing is more important than protecting your kids in the divorce process.