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How Do I Know If My Ex Violated Our Visitation Order?

 Posted on April 16, 2024 in Child Custody

Bexar County, TX child custody lawyerChild visitation rights are taken very seriously in Texas. This is not only to protect parents’ rights but because Texas law believes it is in a child's best interest to have time with both parents.

When two parents get divorced in Texas, they need to agree on custody and visitation arrangements, which are detailed in a document called a “possession order” in Texas.

If parents cannot create a visitation order themselves, it may be decided for them by a court. In both cases, the court will issue the final visitation order, which is a court order that makes the rights and responsibilities of each parent legally binding. (You can use the terms “parenting plan,” “visitation order,” and “possession order” - they all mean the same thing). In some counties, there are domestic relations offices that enforce visitation.

If you believe a visitation order has been violated, contact a qualified Texas family lawyer so you can understand your options.

How Do I Know If a Visitation Order Was Violated?

Visitation orders clarify which parent has primary custody of the child — called the custodial parent — and which parent is the non-custodial parent (NCP). A visitation order will also contain other important details like scheduling, the time and place for exchanging the child, and transportation arrangements.

Technically, any deviation from the order is a violation because it is a legal requirement to follow the visitation order. Examples of violations include:

  • Failing to pick up the child at the time or place specified in the order

  • Keeping the child for longer than your allotted visitation time

  • Failing to provide the other parent with important information about visits or school activities

  • Interrupting the other parent’s time with the child by showing up or calling frequently

  • Ridiculing the other parent to the child

  • Allowing an unauthorized person to pick up the child 

  • Denying visitation rights to the other parent

If you were denied visitation by the other parent, it is only considered a violation if you physically appeared at the exact time and place specified in the order and were denied taking custody of your child.

What Can I Do If an Order Was Violated?

Keep in mind that Texas law wants to keep children together with both of their parents. So if a visitation order was violated, it is not likely to be penalized unless it becomes a recurring problem. An exception to this might be if one of the parents placed the child at significant risk during his or her parenting time.

However, if your co-parent is repeatedly violating the visitation order, you can fill out an application with the domestic relations office (DRO) in your county to enforce the order. A DRO will likely attempt to get both parents to resolve the issue themselves. If that does not work, the DRO may file a petition with the court to use enforcement services.

Sometimes you can file a lawsuit against your co-parent. If you have sustained damages or costs because of the parent’s violations you may be able to recoup them. You may also be able to modify the visitation order.

But here, too, the court will likely first order the parents to attend mediation. As a last resort, a court may penalize the offending parent with fines or, in rare cases, jail time.

Contact a San Antonio, TX Family Lawyer

Texas law treats violations of visitation orders seriously but delicately. The best way to understand your options is to consult with an experienced Bexar County, Illinois family law attorney who is familiar with the legal process. Call Brandon Wong & Associates at 210-201-3832 for top-tier legal advice and representation.

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