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What Texas law has to say about child custody - VI

Starting back in October, we began offering up a series of posts with the goal of trying to provide readers an in-depth look at how various child custody issues are usually dealt with in Texas.

Up to this point we have observed how Texas law chooses to use slightly different terms than what might be commonly used elsewhere. For example, custody is called conservatorship here; a custodial parent in another state will be called the primary joint managing conservator in Texas; a non-custodial parent is called a possessory conservator. And as we pointed out in our previous post of this series, visitation under Texas statute is referred to as possession and/or access.

Our intent this time is to dive into the issue of what can be done in situations when a child doesn't want to spend time with the possessory conservator (non-custodial) parent or that parent fails to visit the child as scheduled under the arrangement approved by the court.

Every parent knows that a child can sometimes be strong willed. It can be very easy to buckle under if the child happens to be particularly adamant about an issue. And perhaps one of the most sensitive issues you can imagine is if the child doesn't want to spend time with the other parent.

This is one situation, however, when the line, "you can't always get what you want" might be needed. A custodial parent has an obligation to take a child for scheduled visitation even if the child doesn't want to go. The only exception to the rule the courts are likely to accept is if the custodial parent feels the child would be in physical danger.

If that is the case, the concerned parent should contact the necessary authorities, police or child services and seek an emergency motion to suspend visitation rights. Unless concerns about safety are present, though, unilateral action denying the other parent access could be seen as alienation.

At the same time, if the other parent should decide they don't want to visit the child, the custodial parent can't force the visit to occur. Of course, refusing to visit could influence conservatorship or possession issues that might arise later.

It's important to note that the law can and does change, so when questions surface it is best to consult an attorney

Source: Texas Young Lawyers Association, "What to expect in Texas family law court," accessed Aug. 12, 2015

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