Visitation Rights

Texas law provides that both parents should have the same rights and duties in raising their child or children.  However, a divorce, suits affecting the parent-child relationship, or some other type of litigation between the custodial and the noncustodial parent can cause strain in the relationship between the two parents.  In turn, this can cause a strain in the relationship between the child or children and the parents.

Although there are no laws that can force a parent to exercise their periods of possession, there are remedies available to you if you want to but are not allowed to exercise your periods of possession.  If you are a parent involved in a visitation rights case, you need a legal counsel who can advise you of your rights.

Brownsville Visitation Rights Attorney

If you are not able to see your child or children, because the other parent is interfering with your periods of possession and access, you need to consult with an attorney who can advise you on your rights. Whether you are current or behind on your child support payments, is not at reason for the other parent to interfere with your visitation rights.  You need to hire an attorney to protect your rights.  At The Gracia Law Firm, P.C. , we understand your relationship with the other parent may not be the best, but as a result, your relationship with your child should not have to suffer. Even if you were an absent parent, you have the right to want to make amends and begin to be present in your child’s life.

If it is in the best interest of the child to see you, then you have the right to exercise your right to visitation.  Let our attorneys at The Gracia Law Firm, P.C. represent you in your case.  We can help you reach a settlement for visitation with your child or children.  The Gracia Law Firm, P.C. will fight for you to obtain an agreeable settlement for visitation rights.

The Gracia Law Firm, P.C. works with clients in Cameron, Hidalgo, and Willacy counties.  Call 956-504-2211 to schedule a free, confidential consultation.  You can also fill out a free case review form at the bottom of the page.

Overview of Visitation Rights

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What are Visitation Rights?

Visitation rights are the right to having possession of and access to a child.  Obtaining sole or joint custody or conservatorship does not necessarily guarantee you get equal possession of or access to the child.  The court can name a parent a possessory conservator, in which that parent can get possession of and access to the child only during designated periods.

If you have settled a parenting plan as a result of a dissolution of marriage or other family lawsuits in the past, you may have already been appointed a Standard Possession Order (SPO). Courts use Standard Possession Orders (SPOs) to litigate the issues of visitation and possession of the child between parents or custodians.  An SPO indicates the noncustodial parent can get designated periods of possession of the child in the following cases:

Parents living within 100 miles of each other

  • 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekends of every month
  • Thursday evenings (during school year)
  • Alternating holidays; and
  • An extended period of 30 days during summer vacation

Parents living more than 100 miles from each other

  • Weekend scheduled may be the same or changed
  • No mid-week visitation
  • Alternating holidays
  • Spring Break and 45 days of an extended period during summer vacation

Otherwise, the court designates a modified version of a possession order if the standard possession order (SPO) does not work for the child or parents.  Tex. Fam. Code § 153.074 explains the rights and duties of a parent during a period of possession can include the following:

(1) the duty of care, control, protection, and reasonable discipline of the child;

(2) the duty to support the child, including providing the child with clothing, food, shelter, and medical and dental care not involving an invasive procedure;

(3) the right to consent for the child to medical and dental care not involving an invasive procedure; and

(4) the right to direct the moral and religious training of the child.

The court can limit or add on to the duties stated if considered appropriate.  The court can decide to input a standard possession order (SPO) or modified possession order, or any possession order citing the period of possession of or access to a child based on the following factors:

  • Child’s age
  • Physical distance between parents
  • Relationship between parent and child
  • Parent’s military status or incarcerated status

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Visitation Rights Determination

Tex. Fam. Code § 153.002 states, “The best interest of the child shall always be the primary consideration of the court in determining the issues of conservatorship and possession of and access to the child.”

In determining whether the other parent or party in the suit should get access to the child, the court considers the following as reasons to reject a noncustodial parent’s petition for visitation rights:

  • History of Family Violence
  • History of Protective Orders
  • History of Sexual Abuse/Sexual Assault
  • History of Prohibited Sexual Conduct
  • History of Child Neglect
  • History of Family Violence or abuse caused by a household member of the noncustodial parent or individual having authorized with unsupervised access to the child during the noncustodial parent’s period or possession of or access to the child.

Unless court-ordered, paying child support does not determine a parent’s visitation right. Otherwise, nonparents wishing to obtain visitation rights to a child have to file for third-party visitation rights.  If you violate any court-order visitation rights or the rights of possession of a custodial parent, you may be subject to paying for damages in a lawsuit and facing criminal charges if regarded as a parental kidnapping offender.

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Supervised Visitation

Tex. Fam. Code § 153.004(d-1) establishes that even in the case of a parent who has committed family violence or a cited offense, the court may still extend access to the child if the following is true:

  • The parent’s access to the child does not endanger the physical health or emotional welfare of the child; and
  • The court sanctions a protective order to ensure the safety and well-being of the child and any other victim of family violence committed by that parent.

A supervised possession order can include the following guidelines:

  • Periods of access supervised by a court-appointed person
  • Possession over the child takes place in a protective setting
  • The parent must abstain from alcohol or controlled substances 12 hours before and during the time of access to the child
  • The parent completes a battering intervention and prevention program or another program similar

Additionally, Tex. Fam. Code § 153.014 states, “A county may establish a visitation center or a visitation exchange facility for the purpose of facilitating the terms of a court order providing for the possession of or access to a child.”

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Access to Electronic Communication

Electronic communication can be regarded as wired or wireless communication between the child and conservator/parent through the internet or another source.  This includes:

  • Phone
  • Email
  • Text Messages
  • Video chat

The court can award periods of electronic communication allowed between the child and the parent at the parent’s plea, or to the court’s choosing as a way to supplement the parent’s period of possession of the child.  The court considers the following when choosing to award access to electronic communication:

  • The best interests of the child;
  • Whether the equipment for communication is available to all the parties;
  • History of Family Violence; and
  • Mutual agreement between parent/conservator.

The parent or conservator and noncustodial parent have to be in constant communication as to any changes that take place involving the methods of electronic communication and have a period of 24 hours to notify each other of such changes.

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Armed Forces Visitation Rights

A parent whose deployment in the armed forces kept them from having possession of or access to his or her child has no later than 90 days after they’ve concluded their deployment to petition the court to:

  • Determine periods of possession of or access to the child owed to the parent, as a replacement for the period of the deployment
  • Award periods of possession of or access to the child owed to the parent for the period of the deployment.

The court may choose to award additional periods of access to or possession of the child to the parent previously deployed; however, it is not required.

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Additional Resources

Access and Visitation | Attorney General of Texas – The Attorney General of Texas (OAG) provides helpful resources to aid parents with custody or visitation orders.  The OAG reports they do not use child support funding to help with custody or visitation; however, through a local organization, the OAG can provide additional services.

Office of the Attorney General

Child Support Division

P.O. Box 12017

Austin, TX 78711-2017 | Visiting Incarcerated Parents – is an online platform resource page created by the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs (IWYGP), a federally supported organization that cares for the issues involving children and adolescents in the United States.  The page provides a tip sheet for parents planning to take their kids to visit an incarcerated parent.

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Visitation Rights Attorney in Brownsville, Texas

If you are fighting for your rights to have access to your child, contact The Gracia Law Firm, P.C. .  Their attorneys can consult with you and advise you of your rights.  Every parent deserves to see their child.  The Gracia Law Firm, P.C. will work hard to get you visitation rights to with your child or children.

The Gracia Law Firm, P.C. understands that people make mistakes.  Even if you were previously arrested does not mean that your visitation rights are terminated.  Call The Gracia Law Firm and schedule an appointment with their attorneys so that they can advise you of your rights.

Call 956-504-2211 to schedule a consultation with one of their attorneys at The Gracia Law Firm, P.C. . They work with clients in the counties of Cameron, Hidalgo, and Willacy.