If you’re a parent in Texas seeking to establish or modify a court order for visitation with your child, you may have many questions and concerns about the process. As a Texas family law attorney, I understand the importance of maintaining a strong relationship with your child and want to help you navigate the legal system to achieve your goals.
The first thing to know is that in Texas, the standard for determining custody and visitation is the best interests of the child. This means that the court will consider various factors, including the child’s age and physical and emotional needs, the parents’ ability to provide for the child, and any history of abuse or neglect.
If you and the other parent are able to agree on a custody and visitation schedule, the court will likely approve the agreement as long as it is in the best interests of the child. However, if you are unable to reach an agreement, the court will make a determination based on the evidence presented by both parties.
Establishing Visitation Rights
If you are seeking to establish visitation rights with your child, you will need to file a petition with the court. This petition should include information about you and the other parent, as well as any relevant background information about the child, such as their age and any special needs they may have.
Once the petition is filed, the court will set a hearing date to consider the evidence presented by both parties and make a determination about the visitation schedule. It’s important to come prepared to the hearing with any documentation or evidence that may support your request for visitation, such as schedules or records of past visits.
Modifying a Visitation Order
If you already have a court-ordered visitation schedule in place but wish to modify it, you will need to file a petition for modification with the court. In order to successfully modify a visitation order, you will need to show that there has been a material and substantial change in circumstances since the original order was issued.
Examples of a material and substantial change in circumstances could include a change in the child’s needs, a change in the parents’ schedules or living arrangements, or a change in the child’s relationship with the parent seeking modification.
It’s important to keep in mind that the court will consider the best interests of the child when deciding whether to modify a visitation order. This means that the court will consider any evidence you present in support of your request, as well as any objections raised by the other parent.
Enforcing a Visitation Order
If you have a court-ordered visitation schedule but the other parent is not allowing you to visit with your child, you can file a petition for enforcement with the court. The court will then set a hearing to consider the evidence and determine whether the other parent is in contempt of the court’s order.
If the court finds the other parent in contempt, they may be ordered to pay a fine or even serve time in jail. It’s important to remember that the court takes violations of visitation orders very seriously, as they recognize the importance of maintaining a relationship with both parents for the child’s well-being.
Seeking Legal Assistance
Navigating the legal system can be complex and overwhelming, especially when it comes to issues involving your child. If you are seeking a court order for visitation or need to modify or enforce an existing order, it may be in your best interests to seek the guidance of an experienced family law attorney.
An attorney can help you understand your rights and options, and can represent you in court to ensure that your interests are protected. With the right legal support, you can feel confident in pursuing your goal of maintaining a strong and meaningful relationship with your child.