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How can you enforce your visitation rights?

If you are a divorced Texas father who has only visitation time with your children, denial of that visitation time by your children’s mother constitutes a violation of your legal rights. Unfortunately, however, enforcing your visitation rights can prove difficult and time-consuming.

Texas Access explains that unlike in many other states, Texas courts issue an actual parenting time order as part of their divorce decrees. This order sets forth all the parameters of your custody and visitation arrangement and serves as your go-to document any time a problem occurs. Be sure to keep your copy of it in a safe place so you can refer to it if and when you encounter visitation issues.

Visitation denial

Texas law defines visitation denial very specifically. Your former spouse denies you visitation only on the occasion(s) when you show up at the precise time and place specified in your court order to pick up your children and she refuses to give them to you. Keep in mind that even if she previously told you by phone, email, text or snail mail that she did not intend to give you your kids, you still have to show up at the appointed time and place for de jure visitation denial to occur.

Visitation enforcement

You can only enforce your court-ordered parenting/custody arrangement by filing a motion for enforcement in the court that granted your divorce. Although you can do this yourself, hiring an attorney to represent you likely constitutes a better option.

You can expect the court to order that you and your former spouse engage in formal mediation to try to reach an agreement before it will issue an enforcement order. Should mediation fail, however, the court will issue an enforcement order. At that point you will need to go to your local domestic relations office to get it enforced if your former spouse still refuses to cooperate and grant you your court-ordered visitation time. In a worst-case scenario, the domestic relations office can file a motion for contempt against your former spouse. She could face probation or even jail time for denying your visitation.

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