Last Updated on December 22, 2023 by Turner Thornton
If your ex has denied you child visitation, you probably feel angry, frustrated, and helpless. What was supposed to be fun, quality time with your child has now become a source of stress and conflict. The good news is that you can take steps to enforce your visitation rights. In this blog post, we will discuss what happens if you are denied child visitation by your ex in Tarrant County and how you can access your child again. But first, please take a moment to watch this informative video by family law attorney Stephanie Sabelhaus.
What is court-ordered child visitation in Texas?
In Texas, a family court judge typically orders child visitation as part of a divorce or child custody proceeding. The order sets out a possession schedule that both parents are required to follow, which is typically based on the child's best interest. In Texas, most families follow the Standard Possession Order (SPO), which is a guide that establishes the days and times that the noncustodial parent has the right to possess the child.
What should I do if the other parent denies my visitation?
If you go to pick up your child and the other parent denies you visitation - or isn't even there to hand over the child - it's important to stay calm and document the denial. To do this, we recommend the following steps:
1. Check your visitation order and confirm that you are picking up your child at the right time, date, and location.
2. Take pictures or videos of you at the location of the attempted visitation, even if the child is not present. Purchase something at a nearby store and keep the receipt showing the date, time, and location. If you knew or had an indication that your ex would deny your visitation, bring a witness with you who may be willing to testify at a later date.
3. Start a visitation journal. Each time there is a denied child visitation, document the date, time, and location of the attempted visitation, as well as any other relevant details. If you have pictures or videos, keep them in a safe place. This journal will be helpful if you need to take legal action to enforce your visitation rights.
** It's important for you to physically go to the correct address on the correct day and time - even if the other parent has told you over the phone that the child will not be there. This is to show that you followed the order, made a good faith effort to see your child, and were denied access.
Should I contact the police if I was denied visitation with my child in Texas?
When your ex prevents you from seeing your child at the designated time, your first instinct may be to call the police. In Texas, court orders are enforceable by police and, in egregious situations, could even constitute interference with child custody. However, many police departments aren't willing to get involved and will say it's a civil matter and refer you back to family court.
Still, getting a police report is a good document to have if you pursue legal action down the road. It's also not uncommon for police to talk to both parties and try to de-escalate the situation.
I documented the denied child visitation. Now what? What are my options?
If you have been denied child visitation, your first step should be to try and resolve the issue with the other parent outside of court. This can be done through mediation or simply communicating directly with the other parent (perhaps with the help of a third party).
If you cannot work things out with the other parent, and you have been denied visitation on multiple occasions, your next step is to hire an attorney to file a visitation enforcement case.
So, what is child visitation enforcement?
Child visitation enforcement is a legal remedy available to a parent who has been denied court-ordered child visitation. A family law attorney will seek enforcement of a child visitation order by filing a Motion for Enforcement for denial of possession or access against the other parent for violating the terms of the order. Simply put, you are asking a judge to punish the other person for failing to follow the child visitation order.
What happens after my attorney files a motion for enforcement?
After a motion for enforcement is filed with the court, you will receive a court date, and the other parent will be served. During the hearing, both sides will have the opportunity to present evidence and their side. After the hearing, the judge will rule on the matter.
What is the punishment for denying child visitation in Texas?
There are a few different ways that the judge can enforce a child visitation order:
1. The court can order the custodial parent to allow make-up time for any missed visitation.
2. The court can hold the custodial parent in contempt of court, which can result in fines, jail time, or both.
3. The court can order the custodial parent to pay the other parent's attorneys fees.
4. The court can reverse custody and award it to the other parent (in extreme cases).
What are common examples of denied child visitation in Texas?
There are many scenarios that could constitute a denial of child visitation. Some common examples include:
* The custodial parent moves and doesn't tell the other parent about the new address;
* The custodial parent refuses to let the child go with the other parent;
* The custodial parent cancels or reschedules visits at the last minute;
* The custodial parent is consistently late or not at the designated pickup location;
* The custodial parent denies visitation because the non-custodial parent is behind on child support (this is not allowed);
* The custodial parent changes the child's routine or schedule so it interferes with visitation;
* The child doesn't want to go (a child under 18 doesn't have the right to refuse visitation).
Can a 12-year-old child refuse visitation?
There's a popular misconception that at age 12, a child can choose their primary residence and whether or not to comply with visitation. Texas Family Courts are mandated to act in the best interest of the child when determining issues of possession of and access to the child.
What happens at age 12 is that, during a custody hearing, the judge is to interview the child to determine the child's wishes - but that interview does not diminish the court's exclusive discretion in determining what's in the child's best interest. A child's wish to access (visitation) is just one factor for the court to consider.
Enforcing Child Visitation 15 Year Old
Many people wonder if there is a particular age at which a child can refuse visitation. The legal answer is that until a child is 18, a parent has a right to visitation. There are two caveats, though. If a child is unwilling to go to one parent's home or the other, the older the child is, the less likely a judge will force them to go to that parent. Second, the custodial parent can seek a modification, which a court might consider granting.
Denied child visitation in Fort Worth or the surrounding area? Contact us.
If you have been denied child visitation in Tarrant County, contact Varghese Summersett Family Law Group to discuss your unique situation. We have a team of experienced family law attorneys who can help protect your rights and your relationship with your child. We know how painful it can be not seeing your child, and we will do everything in our power to right this wrong. Call us today at 817-900-3220 to schedule a consultation.