The legal information provided on this website is the product of
Legal Aid NorthWest Texas (LANWT). None of the legal information
on this website is associated with or the product of the Office
of the Attorney General of Texas or any of its employees.
Q. What happens if I have to
work on a weekend when I am supposed to have my children?
A. If you cannot pick up
your children when it is your time for possession, you must
notify the custodial parent and the children ahead of time.
Virtually all visitation orders allow the parents to swap
weekends, or make any other visitation arrangements they wish,
as long as both parents agree on the change. If both parents
cannot agree on a change, then that visitation period is lost.
Q. Do I have to pick up my
children personally or can I have someone else do it for me?
A. Normally either parent
may designate any competent adult to pick up the children or be
there when they are dropped off.
Q. The custodial parent wants
to move out of state with my children. What can I do?
A. If there is no court
order regarding your rights, immediately consult an attorney and
begin court action while Texas still has authority to make
decisions about the children. If there is a court order,
carefully read the custody portion of the court order. Most
court orders state which parent has the right to determine where
the child lives and often it will include a geographic
restriction on where the children may live. However, it is
possible the custodial parent would have the right to move
without geographic restriction. If this is the case, you can
contact an attorney to modify that order and prevent the move.
Q. We just split up and the
other parent has the children. Is the other parent required to
allow me to see my children?
A. Unless a child was born
during the marriage, some other presumption of paternity exists,
or the unmarried parents have signed and filed an
Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP), a biological father has no
legal rights concerning the child.
If you were married, but now separated, and
there is no court order for visitation, there is no legal
requirement for one parent to let the other parent visit with
Q. The custodial parent
refuses to let me see my children. Can I stop paying child
A. No. The expenses for
the child’s food and shelter continue whether visitation is
ongoing or not. If one parent violates the court order, the
other parent does not have the right to violate it as well. If
both parents violate the court order, each of you could be held
in contempt. Contempt of court can result in up to six months in
jail and a $500 fine for each violation. If the custodial parent
refuses to allow visitation, contact a lawyer and ask the court
to enforce the visitation. If there is a Domestic Relations
Office in your area, contact that office to determine if they
can assist with visitation enforcement. The child support
obligation must still be paid in accordance with the latest
Q. The custodial parent has
moved farther away. What can I do about the extra costs of
visiting my children?
A. If a change of
residence results in increased expenses for you, the courts can
make an order to allocate the increased expenses. A motion to
request that the court modify the existing order is necessary.
Q. What is the usual
A. State law provides the
Standard Possession Order. The law assumes that this order is in
the best interest of the child if the child is age three or
older. If the child is under the age of three, the court will
render an order appropriate under the circumstances, with a
standard order likely taking effect on the child's third
birthday. If you want more visitation than this provides, or if
the other parent wants less visitation for you, or wants
supervised visits, then that person must show the court how
granting them their request would be in the best interest of the
child. The Standard Possession Order is summarized below.
- Weekends - under the standard
possession order, the non-custodial parent has the children
the first, third, and fifth Friday of each month beginning
at 6:00 p.m. until the following Sunday at 6:00 p.m. and
each Thursday from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. You may elect
to have the children from Friday when school is out until
6:00 p.m. the following Sunday. You may also elect Thursday
when the child is released from school until school resumes
the next day. But you must make this designation in the
written order and you are responsible for making sure the
child gets to school on time. If the Friday or Monday before
or after your weekend is a holiday, your weekend is
extended. For example, if Labor Day is the Monday following
your weekend, then you get to keep the children until that
Monday rather than Sunday. If any of the holiday provisions
below conflict with the weekend schedule, the holiday
schedule is observed.
- Spring Break – The parents alternate
each year. The non-custodial parent will get even-numbered
years beginning at 6 p.m. the day school is released and
ending at 6 p.m. the day before school resumes.
- Summer – If you provide written notice
to the custodial parent on or before April 1 of each year,
you may designate 30 days each summer for possession of the
children. This can be broken up into two separate periods
but each period must be at least 7 days. You cannot begin
this possession earlier than the day after school is out and
it must end at least seven days before school resumes.
If you do not give written notice by April 1, then you will
get the children beginning at 6 p.m. on July 1 and ending at
6 p.m. July 31.
If the custodial parent gives you written notice by April
15, they may designate one weekend that they will have the
children during your summer visitation. The custodial parent
will be responsible for picking up and returning the
children to you if they choose to exercise this visitation.
- Christmas – The noncustodial parent will have the children in even-numbered years beginning at 6 p.m. on the day the child is dismissed from school for Christmas vacation and ending at noon on December 26 (or December 28 if your order was signed after June 15, 2007) The custodial parent will then have the child from noon on December 26 (or December 28 if your order was signed after June 15, 2007) until school resumes. In odd-numbered years you would switch.
- Thanksgiving – The noncustodial parent
will have the children in odd-numbered years beginning at 6
p.m. the day school is dismissed for Thanksgiving and ending
at 6 p.m. the following Sunday. In even-numbered years you
- Birthdays – The parent who is not
normally entitled to have possession of the child on the
child’s birthday is entitled to pick up the child at 6 p.m.
and return the child at 8 p.m. on the child’s birthday.
- Father’s Day – The father will have
possession of the children beginning at 6 p.m. the Friday
before Father’s Day and ending at 6 p.m. on Father’s Day.
The father will be responsible for picking up and returning
the children if it is not his normal weekend to have them.
- Mother’s Day
– The mother has possession of the children for Mother’s Day
weekend just as the father does for Father’s Day.
For an easy-to-read calendar version of the Standard Possession Order, click here.
the visitation schedule change if I live more than 100 miles
away from my children?
A. Yes. If you live more
than 100 miles apart, you can select the weekend visitation
above or you can select any one weekend a month of your choice
provided you give the custodial parent at least 14 days notice
of that weekend. You may give this notice by phone. You must
also give WRITTEN notice to the custodial parent that you intend
to select the one weekend per month within 90 days from the time
you live more than 100 miles apart.
You also will get the children each spring break instead of
For the summer, provided you give written notice to the
custodial parent by April 1 of each year, you may select 42
consecutive days for your summer visitation. This too may be
split up into two groups of at least seven days each. If you do
not give written notice by April 1, then you will have the
children beginning at 6 p.m. on June 15 and ending on July 27
The custodial parent may designate one weekend during your
summer for possession of the children, provided they give you
written notice of the weekend by April 15. The custodial parent
may also designate 21 days where the non-custodial parent will
not have possession of the children provided: (a) they give
written notice of these dates by April 15; (b) the dates do not
interfere with the summer visitation already selected by the
non-custodial parent; and (c) it does not interfere with
Father’s Day weekend.