Determining parental rights in Texas

The state of Texas encourages any parent who is fit to raise their children to be actively involved in their child’s life. This may be done by having frequent contact with their children and by asking both parents to share the responsibilities that come with raising a child. A parent is considered fit enough to be in a child’s life if he or she can provide a safe home and a stable environment.

When determining the rights of each parent, a court will not take into consideration a parent’s sex or marital status. Access to a child is generally not tied to the parent’s ability to pay child support to a custodial parent. However, if a parent has a history of domestic abuse, that parent may not have contact with the child if any abuse occurred within two years prior to a hearing.

If neither of the parents is fit for custody, the state may appoint someone to be the child’s conservator. This person may also be any competent adult who adheres to the guidelines set by the state to provide for the best interest of a child.

A judge generally considers the best interest of a child when determining the rights of each parent during a divorce. Whether two parents share child custody or one parent has custody, the best interest of the child trumps what the parent may want in most cases. The only exceptions are if a parent has a history of sexual or physical abuse. Consulting with a family law attorney may enable a parent to get maximum access to his or her child through the development of an appropriate parenting plan.

Texas visitation rights

In Texas, when a child’s parents are divorced, the court may choose to set a visitation schedule for the noncustodial parent if the parents are unable to agree on a schedule themselves. There are several periods of visitation covered under a standard possession order.

Weekend visitation typically takes place on alternating weekends during a one-month period. The first, third and, during a long month, the fifth weekend of a month is given to the noncustodial parent. Weekday visitation is given during a two-hour period on Thursday evenings between 6 and 8 pm.

Holiday visitation alternates by year. One year, Thanksgiving may be spent with the custodial parent. However, the next year is must be spent with the noncustodial parent. The Christmas season is split in half. For example, if the period of time between school dismissal and the day after Christmas is spent with the noncustodial parent, the rest of the time is spent with the custodial parent. The next year the periods alternate. The mother will be given the right to spend time with the child on Mother’s Day, and the similar privilege will extend to the father on Father’s Day.

On birthdays, visitation rights extend to both parents. If the child is with one parent for the day, the other parent still receives two hours of time, from 6 to 8 pm. For summer vacation, the nonresidential parent gets 30 days of visitation if the parents’ residences are within 100 miles. If the nonresidential parent lives further away, the child gets to spend 42 days with that parent. The 100-mile rule applies for spring break, except it alternates by year. A family law attorney may be able to help negotiate a different schedule to ensure quality parenting time for a client.