Visitation is often a contentious divorce issue, for all those involved—the custodial parent, the non-custodial parent, and the children. Divorce is all about change, and visitation is one of the bigger changes. The custodial parent may feel lost when the children are away, while the non-custodial parent may feel angry that he or she does not have more time with the children. The children may not only pick up on all the feelings from their parents, but they may also have their own feelings about all the post-divorce adjustments going on. Setting up and living with a visitation schedule represents big changes for all those involved, and sometimes these changes can feel totally overwhelming.
It is important that you have a Texas divorce attorney in whom you can place your entire trust, throughout the divorce. When you have Landrith & Kulesz, L.L.P. on your side, you can relax, knowing we will be fighting for you from start to finish. You will be given an advantage once your hire Landrith & Kulesz, L.L.P.; that benefit will be to allow you to take the time you need to mourn the loss of your marriage, making decisions for your future while we handle all the legal aspects. One of those legal aspects will be visitation. We will ensure the visitation schedule is fair for all those involved and can be implemented with the least amount of stress.
Schedules for Possession and Access
In the state of Texas, physical custody is known as “possession” of the child, and visitation is known as “access,” therefore, a visitation schedule will clearly delineate the specific times each parent will spend with the child. The possession and access schedule is one element of the parenting plan. If parents are unable to agree on a visitation plan, it is likely the judge will step in and award orders for “standard” possession and access. This standard order allows the parent who does not have primary custody to see the child on Thursday evenings, along with the first, third, and fifth weekend of each month. If this is not a schedule you would be happy with, you and the child’s other parent should do your best to agree on your own schedule. You may be required to comprehensively explain to the court why this alternative schedule would be in the best interests of your child.
To expand on the terms “access” and “possession,” a parent is presumed to have possession of the child whenever that child is under his or her care. Access is a much broader term which, in addition to meaning “visitation,” includes any communication between the child and parent, and even attendance by either parent at an activity. One parent, the custodial parent, usually has a larger portion of possession. This might be by a wide margin or might be only slightly more possession. The other parent, the non-custodial parent, has visitation, or “access.”
Very occasionally, parents will split parenting time exactly in half, meaning neither parent is the custodial parent. Some parents choose a 4-3 schedule, where the child spends four days a week with one parent and three days a week with the other, and then switch the next week. There are many other variables that can be considered. In addition to the “normal” weeks, parents must also plan for summer break, school holidays, religious holidays, special occasions (the child’s birthday), and other special days.
How to Get Your Schedule Approved by the Judge
If you and the other parent want to create your own schedule, the best way to have the judge approve your schedule is when you consider the following:
- Make sure your language is very specific;
- Make sure the proposed schedule is applicable to future years;
- Make sure the proposed schedule will remain applicable as your child grows older;
- Make sure to consider the work schedules of both parents when creating the schedule;
- Make sure to consider the distance between both homes when creating the schedule;
- Try to keep siblings together—unless that would not be in their best interests;
- Make sure your child has frequent contact with both parents—unless that would not be in his or her best interests, and
- Take the time to reflect on your child’s unique needs prior to putting together a schedule.
Schedule for Children Under the Age of Three
If the child in question is under the age of three, the judge may provide a possession and access schedule, which is specifically designed for younger children. The schedule may switch to the more “standard” order once the child is over the age of three. To determine the best schedule for a child under the age of three, the judge will consider the following:
- The necessity of a routine for the younger child;
- How close the parents live to one another;
- Whether siblings will be present during possession periods;
- The child’s developmental, physical, behavioral, and medical needs.
- The history of both parents, relating to caretaking ability;
- How the younger child will handle separation from either parent;
- How available each parent is;
- How willing each parent is to care for a younger child;
- The economic condition of each parent;
- The physical, emotional and medical condition of each parent;
- Whether any other individuals live with either parent;
- The necessity of the child to develop a healthy attachment to both parents, and
- How likely it is that the parents will be able to share the parenting duties and responsibilities of the younger child.
Denial of Access
In rare cases, a parent may be denied possession and access altogether, if such access and possession would be damaging to the child’s emotional or physical health. If one parent had a history of abusing the child, had an uncontrolled alcohol or drug problem, or has an untreated mental illness, that parent might be denied possession and access.
Getting Help for Visitation Issues from Landrith & Kulesz, L.L.P.
Custody and visitation issues are often highly emotional, and sometimes contentious. It can be very beneficial to have an experienced family law attorney from Landrith & Kulesz, L.L.P. to help you navigate this issue. Experience truly counts when it comes to the well-being and best interests of your children. We have the necessary experience at Landrith & Kulesz, L.L.P., along with compassion for your situation, knowledge of the law, and the specific skills needed for this type of negotiations. We understand just how much is at stake during a custody dispute and will work hard to ensure the very best outcome possible. Contact Landrith & Kulesz, L.L.P. today for a consultation regarding your visitation and child custody issues.