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Understanding Visitation Rights

Understanding Visitation Rights

Even under the most amicable of circumstances, disputes can arise about how much time a former couple's minor children should spend with each parent. A non-custodial parent may not want to hedge his or her chances of seeing the children on the custodial parent's goodwill. Instead, he or she will need to go to court to request visitation rights.

To better prepare yourself for asking a family court for visitation of your children, it helps to understand Texas's visitation rights and laws. You can also make your case for visitation better by retaining an experienced visitation lawyer to represent you in court.

Types of Visitation Orders in Texas

Texas family courts utilize several visitation orders to facilitate contact between children and non-custodial parents. The most common orders that family court judges use are:

  • Standard
  • Modified
  • Order for a child under three
  • Supervised

Visitation orders are actually called possession orders in Texas. A standard possession order, the most common rendered by family courts, involves both the custodial and non-custodial parents near equal time with their children. If both parents live within 100 miles of each other, the non-custodial parent is granted visitation for:
  • The first, third and fifth weeks of every month
  • Thursday evenings during the school year
  • Alternating holidays
  • A period extending 30 days during the summer

If the parents live more than 100 miles from each other, the non-custodial parent gets a visitation order that is reduced to one weekend a month, with no midweek visits, more than 42 days in the summer, and every spring break.

If the standard visitation order does not work for the family or puts the children's safety at risk, the order can be modified. The judge may decide that the visitation with the non-custodial parent needs to be supervised by a family member or neutral third party.

Likewise, parents of children under the age of three can use standard visitation orders. However, they can also ask for a possession order for a child under three if the child meets certain legal criteria. For example, the order may need to be modified to favor the mother having most of the time with him or her if the child is breastfed and not yet weaned.

Grandparent Visitation Orders

Texas law does not mandate that grandparents be given any rights to visitation with their grandchildren. However, while they may not automatically be given this right under the family laws in the state, grandparents can still go to court and ask to be given visitation with their minor grandchildren.

They may be granted visitation if:

  • The children's parents are divorced
  • The custodial parent abused or neglected the children
  • The custodial parent is incarcerated, not competent or deceased
  • The child has lived with the grandparents for at least six months

Grandparents cannot ask for visitation rights if the child in question has been adopted by someone other than his or her step-parent.

Seeking Legal Help

The visitation laws and rights in Texas are designed to protect the best interests of the child. When you want to make a solid case for why you should be granted a possession order, you need to hire an experienced visitation rights attorney to represent you in family court.

With your attorney's help, you can determine what visitation order is best suited for you and your children's needs. You can find out more about visitation rights and laws in Texas by contacting the Law Office of Rebecca J. Carrillo today at (210) 405-6623.

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