The Basics of Visitation Rights in Texas

On Behalf of | Aug 20, 2021 | Child Custody

One of the central aspects of child care is parental visitation. When a married couple breaks up, they need to develop a child custody agreement. The custody agreement determines certain things such as who will have primary physical custody, shared legal custody, and so forth. Visitation rights are another key part of caring for the child shared between the parties. In this post, we will lay out the basics on how the State of Texas deals with this critically important matter.

Texas Believes in the Necessity of Dual Parental Involvement

The first thing to know when it comes to visitation rights in Texas is that our system believes that the welfare of children is best promoted by having involving from both parents. This is sort of the “first principle” when it comes to understanding how our visitation rights work. Unless a parent is unstable, or potentially dangerous, the State of Texas adheres to the notion that a child should have regular contact with both parents. This principle informs Texas’s laws on visitation, as is reflects in Texas’s “Standard Possession Order,” which we will discuss below.

Parents Can Develop Their Own Visitation Schedules

The next thing to know is that parents are able to develop their own visitation schedules if they choose to do so. In some ways, this is the best option, because parents often have unusual schedules which may make following a pre-arranged schedule a difficult task. Suppose one parent is a police officer or firefighter; that parent may be called into work at random times with very little notice. Or, that parent may have to work very long hours during a particular stretch of time, which prevents that parent from being able to see his or her child on a certain schedule. The key point is that Texas courts will generally approve a visitation schedule developed independently by parents.

Basics of the Standard Possession Order (SPO)

If parents cannot or will not develop their own independent visitation schedule, a Texas judge will implement a default order referred to as a Standard Possession Order, or SPO. An SPO gives the same basic visitation schedules to non-custodial parents; the non-custodial parent spends the first, third and fifth weekend (whenever possible) of every month with the child. Also, the non-custodial parent spends one weeknight evening with the child during the normal school year. In addition, an SPO will spell out the visitation schedule for holidays and during the summer when school is out.

Courts Can Assist When Custodial Parents are Uncooperative

Sadly, situations occasionally arise in which one parent is uncooperative with respect to the visitation schedule. In some instances, one parent actively tries to prevent the other parent from seeing their child out of a desire for revenge. Fortunately, Texas courts are able to address cases such as these. If one parent believes that the other parent is intentionally interfering with his or her ability to visit the child, that parent can petition to the court to develop a more fixed visitation schedule. Then, if the allegedly uncooperative parent continues to behave improperly, the court can proceed to take more serious actions to correct this behavior. As mentioned, Texas starts with the principle that both parents have a legal right to actively engage in their children’s lives. An uncooperative parent is a barrier against this principle, and so Texas courts will act accordingly.

Contact The Ramage Law Group for More Information

Visitation rights can get complicated in certain situations. This is only a brief introduction. If you’d like to learn more, please contact The Ramage Law Group today by calling 469-208-6980.