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What Do Texas Visitation Rights Entail?

What Your Visitation Rights Should Be in Texas

When you’re seeking a divorce and you have children, it’s likely that you will need to deal with visitation rights during the process. In 2013, around 50 percent of noncustodial parents had visitation rights with their children. If you want to know more about visitation rights and how they apply to your case, contact one of our family law attorneys.

What Does Child Visitation Law Constitute?

In Texas, child custody is referred to as “conservatorship,” and instead of calling the parent primarily in charge a custodian, he or she is named the child’s “conservator.” However, for ease of reading, we will use the more familiar terms throughout.

The child visitation laws in Texas focus on the rights of any noncustodial parent to visit his or her child. In most cases, these laws provide that parent with the ability to take custody of the child for short periods on specific dates and times. Either the parents agree on a visitation schedule or this schedule is determined by a judge. It’s sometimes possible for these schedules to be altered in the future based on certain events or situations. Child visitation is usually determined by the best interests of the child, which is something that a judge will take into account when deciding on what the noncustodial parent’s visitation rights are going to be.

How Is a Visitation Schedule Determined?

visitation rightsIn the state of Texas, there is a standard possession order that provides each parent with equal access to and possession of the child while at the same time focusing on the child’s needs during the school year. It’s also important to understand that the guidelines for creating a schedule for visitation can change if the child is under the age of three. In this case, the child’s circumstances are typically taken into account. Some of the factors that contribute to this decision include:

 

  • How available the parents are to act as caregivers
  • How the child is directly affected by being separated from one parent or the other
  • Whether any siblings are going to be present during possession of the child
  • The general needs of the child and the desirability of a basic routine

Some schedules that are made for child visitation will also take holidays into account, which means that one parent may have the child for a few holidays each year with the other parent having custody of the child for the remaining ones. Such schedules vary from one family to the next for any number of reasons. The primary one would be the needs of the individual children involved. The focus of the schedule is intended to be based on the requirements of the child rather than those of the parents.

Keep in mind that visitation rights and the right to possession of the child for a specific period can be altered depending on the distance of the noncustodial parent from the child. A change may be implemented based on whether or not that parent lives within 100 miles. Any requested modifications to the initial schedule created for visitation will depend on whether the alterations fit with the best interests of the child in question. What’s best for the youngster this year may not be best five years from now.

How a Family Law Attorney Can Assist You

If you’re going through the lengthy divorce process and trying to determine what visitation you will have with your son or daughter, you may want to contact one of our professional family law attorneys here at Steward Law PLLC. We understand the statutes in Texas that pertain to visitation rights, and we can help clear up any confusion that you might have on the matter. We’re also able to assist with divorce cases and provide you with representation in court. Since child custody and visitation rights can be among the more complicated aspects of a divorce, you may want to seek professional legal counsel to guide you through the process.

If you’re getting ready to file for divorce and would like to know more about your visitation rights, call our Baytown office at (281) 420-8020 to speak with a family law attorney who can address your questions.

What Not to Do When You Are a Noncustodial Parent

Noncustodial Parent Time

There’s simply no way around it—divorce is hard on kids and it’s hard on parents, too. Unfortunately, with good or bad intentions, custodial and non-custodial parents can make the situation much worse. Here are some of the most frequent ways adults complicate matters for children of divorce. If you have questions about your noncustodial parent time, contact a Baytown divorce lawyer for assistance.

  • Discuss things in front of the children that should be addressed privately—It’s not realistic (and probably not healthy) to expect that you’ll never have a disagreement with your ex. But don’t air that laundry in front of your children!! Your kids aren’t mature enough to understand that disagreements can be worked out. In addition, they may assume they have caused the problem.
  • Use visitation as a tool to either punish or reward an ex-spouse—Visitation is a right of the child, as much as it’s a right of the parent. Custodial and non-custodial parents should never use it as a bargaining chip or to punish an ex. The ones who suffer the most from this type of behavior?—the children.
  • Make a child feel guilty about being with the other parent—It may often be entirely unintentional, but when you tell your children that you will miss them when they are with the other parent, they may have a vision of you as sitting home sad and alone..and they may blame themselves for your condition.
  • Let your children make the decisions about when and how long they will visit their non-custodial parent, or when they will go home—This puts unnecessary pressure on the child, as they don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings, but find themselves in a no-win situation.
  • Set your expectations too high—It’s common, especially for non-custodial parents, to want the time spent with children to be special. That puts a lot of pressure on your kids. Try, instead, to integrate your children into your life. Don’t plan all your activities around your children, but let them participate with you in deciding what you’ll do. But do as many of the things you normally do as possible. That’s how your kids really get to know you.

Noncustodial Parent

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, our divorce lawyer bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas. To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-761-6042 or contact us online . We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

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Keeping Christmas from Becoming a Contest When You Are a Parent of Divorce

Keeping Christmas from Becoming a Contest When You Are a Parent of Divorce

Christmas-celebration

If you are a divorced parent with minor children, Christmas can be involve more stress and anxiety than good cheer. Whether you are the custodial or non-custodial parent, you can easily get caught up in a sense of competition—who’s giving the children the best gifts? Or the ones they really want? Who’s having the best celebration? It can be hard on you, but rest assured, it can be much harder for your children. Here are some tips to help make the holidays more jolly for everyone.

Communicate about Presents

It’s best to have conversations, generally outside the earshot of your children, about what they need and want for Christmas. Agree upon a spending limit that’s fair to both parties. If there are gifts that your children want, rather than need, try to split those up, so that each parent gets to enjoy giving the child something that makes his or her eyes light up. And no surprises—getting your child a really big ticket item may make you feel good momentarily, and your child may be excited as well, but it will wear off and your child will feel pain for the other  parent, and will feel  put in the middle.

Talk about Festivities

Share your holiday plans with your ex and see if you can work out a compromise that allows your children to have quality time with both of you. It’s a really great idea to alternate holidays every year…Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Years. The earlier you start that practice, the more accepted it will be, and the less disappointment you’ll have from children who have become accustomed to only one way of doing things. Try to minimize travel back and forth, too. You might have the children spend Christmas Eve at one house and stay overnight, but spend the rest of the day with the other parent, once presents are opened in the morning.

Be Willing to Compromise

A little flexibility is a good thing. Be willing to let the deadlines be just a little fuzzy, but keep your ex honest. When you set good boundaries with each other, your children benefit, too.

Be Willing to Spend a Few Minutes Together as a Family

One of the most powerful things you can do during the holidays is to drop your defenses. Stay and have some cookies with your ex and the children when you drop them off. Give your children the opportunity to see you acting like a grownup.

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas. To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-761-6042 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

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Visitation and the Holidays

Visitation and the Holidays

Visitation-and-the-Holidays

You may have a visitation schedule that works very effectively during the rest of the year, but things are typically different during the holidays. Your kids will have a certain amount of time off from school and may need adult supervision. In addition, you’ll want to spend more quality time with them, if you can. The best way to ensure that the holidays don’t magnify your stress level is to agree to a holiday schedule in advance and stick to it.

There are a number of ways that you can deal with visitation at the holidays:

 

  • One of the most common approaches is to alternate major holidays every year—if your children were with you on Christmas last year, they’ll be with you this year. This gives both parents the opportunity to share holidays with their children and offers the same experience to kids. Don’t ever consider having some kids with mom and others with dad on the same day—bad idea, as the kids will naturally talk about which place was best. It’s what kids do.
  • You can also set up two holiday celebrations. Christmas is on the 25th with one parent and on the Sunday before with the other parent.
  • Divide the day up for major holidays like Christmas or Thanksgiving. Let children wake up in one house and spend the afternoon and evening in the other parent’s home. With Thanksgiving, you may have your children with one parent on Thanksgiving Day and with the other parent on Friday.
  • For some parents, it works to have assigned holidays. For example, if you are in the hospitality business and your ex is not, you may have obligations every New Years Eve, so you may agree to have the children with your ex for that holiday every year.

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas. To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-761-6042 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

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Texas Man Beats Charge Filed by Ex-Partner

A Texas man was acquitted of theft charges after confiscating his daughter’s iPhone 4. Ronald Jackson, a Dallas native, says he saw what he considered to be an “inappropriate” text message on his 12-year-old daughter’s iPhone and took it away from her. The girl’s mother, though, contended that she had purchased the phone and called local authorities, reporting that Jackson had stolen the phone. When police arrived, Jackson refused to turn over the phone, saying police had no right to interfere with his efforts to be a parent to his daughter.

When Jackson refused to turn over the phone, his ex, Michelle Steppe, convinced the city attorney’s office to have a citation for theft served upon him. The city attorney proposed a plea bargain, whereby Jackson would have all charges dismissed if he returned the phone. He refused and hired an attorney. In response, the city attorney changed the charge to a higher grade misdemeanor and police issued a warrant for his arrest. Jackson was taken into custody, but posted a $1,500 bond.

In pre-trial motions, the Dallas County Criminal Court threw out the case, saying that the state had not produced enough evidence to go to trial. Jackson’s attorney says he plans to file a complaint in federal court for violation of his client’s civil rights. He also acknowledged that Jackson still possesses the iPhone.

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas.

To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-420-8020 or contact us online . We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

Visitation and Co-Parenting in Texas

Visitation vs. Co-Parenting

Visitation and Co-Parenting in TexasIn Texas, as in other states, courts in custody proceedings give priority to the “best interests of the child.” The courts also distinguish between physical custody (now called “managing conservatorship” in Texas) and legal custody. Managing conservatorship or physical custody refers to the actual physical residence of the child. Legal custody addresses the rights of the parent to participate in decisions regarding the child’s welfare, such as medical, educational, religious or other special needs.

With respect to physical custody, courts in Texas prefer to grant “joint managing conservatorship,” where both parents have access to the child, and the child spends some time in the home of each parent. In many instances, the child will spend a greater amount of time with one parent, who is labeled the “primary joint managing conservator,” or custodial parent. The other parent is customarily granted visitation (now referred to as “access”) with the minor child.

There is no “standard” co-parenting arrangement, though. The parents are typically free to work out agreements, such as alternating weeks with each parent, provided the court finds that such an arrangement is not disruptive to the child. Parents also have the ability to negotiate all other issues related to custody and visitation, from holidays and vacations to participation in extra-curricular activities.

If the parents cannot work out an acceptable arrangement, the court will order conservatorship and access, based on a number of factors, including:

  • The stability of each home
  • The fitness of each parent
  • The current and prior relationship between parent and child
  • The physical and emotional needs of the child
  • The input of the child, if the child is 12 year of age or older

Contact Us

At the law office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 10 years of experience to clients in south Texas. To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-420-8020 or contact us online.

We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our office is open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

 
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