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Your Rights: Child Visitation & Texas Law

Updated: Sep 25, 2023 @ 8:01 am

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Getting things done in Texas family courts always has the potential to be a hassle. This is particularly true when it pertains to child visitation rights. In some cases, the precious bonds between parents and their children can hang in the balance.

As experienced child custody lawyers, Tad Nelson & Associates is always willing to help our friends and neighbors in Galveston who need help in family court. Sometimes the courts make mistakes or need to make changes. We’re here to help you get things done.

If you decide to work with us on your child custody case, we’ll ensure your experience is as smooth as possible. Child visitation rights in Texas is a topic close to the hearts of many parents. Let’s review a few important things to know.

Understanding Standard Possession Orders (SPO)

At the heart of the Texas Family Code’s attempt to administer child visitation lies the Standard Possession Order (SPO). This law is covered in Texas Family Code § 153.3101-153.317. In short, it dictates the guidelines for visitation, or as Texas law prefers to call it, ‘possession and access.’

The SPO addresses weekend visitations, holidays, birthdays, and summer vacations.

In general, the noncustodial parent is granted visitation on the first, third, and fifth weekends of each month, Thursdays during the school year, alternating holidays, and extended time in the summer.

It’s worth noting that this is just a starting point. If an arrangement is in the child’s best interests, the courts will consider it.

A Look at Joint Managing Conservatorship

Texas law carries a presumption in favor of Joint Managing Conservatorship (JMC), as per Texas Family Code § 153.131(b).

In essence, JMC means that both parents share rights and duties concerning their child, even though they may not have equal possession time.

Sharing rights basically means having a say in crucial decisions like the education, medical treatment, moral and religious upbringing of the child.

It’s important to note that JMC doesn’t guarantee equal visitation rights.

Special Circumstances

Every family is different. There are unique circumstances where standard guidelines aren’t workable. In these situations, we may need a non-standard possession order.

For instance, when concerning kids 3 years old and younger, the court will weigh various factors before settling on a visitation schedule. Such factors may be related to the child’s routine, the caregiver’s abilities, and the proximity of the parents’ residences.

If there’s a history of domestic violence or child abuse, the court may order supervised visitation to ensure the child’s safety.

All these issues are addressed in non-standard/restricted possession orders.

Restricted possession orders are covered in Texas Family Code § 153.004.

Geographic Residency Restrictions

In some Galveston child custody cases, judges will order geographical restrictions on the child’s residence. These restrictions are in place to give both parents access to their child. The restriction is usually limited to the jurisdiction where the case was filed and surrounding areas.

In matters involving relocations, whether in or out-of-state, modifications to the possession order may be needed.

In any case, parents must adhere to the legal procedures outlined in the Texas Family Code § 156.101 for any proposed relocations. If you have any questions, contact our law firm. Initial consultations are free.

Court Order Enforcement

Protecting Your Rights

If a parent fails to comply with the possession order, the aggrieved party can take legal action to enforce it.

Noncompliance is considered a civil contempt of court under Texas Family Code § 157.001. If the court pursues the contempt case, penalties can range from fines to jail time.

If you’re looking for a lawyer for any purpose related to a child custody matter in Galveston County, give us a call. We know it can be an intimidating situation. However, you’re not alone.

At Tad Nelson & Associates, we have extensive experience helping people settle child custody disputes in Galveston County. If you need professional legal counsel, call us. We’ll help you get your case moving in the right direction.

Tad Nelson & Amber Spurlock have handled numerous cases related to child custody matters. We’re always working to give our clients compassionate service along with relentless legal representation. Anyone needing a Galveston child custody attorney will benefit from working with our legal team.

We’re here to protect your parental rights so you can ensure that your child’s welfare is prioritized. If you have any questions, give us a call at 409-904-0043.


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