Bruce C. Zivley, Attorney at Law

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Texas visitation rights and responsibilities

When the parents of a child in Texas do not live together, problems can arise in delineating the rights and responsibilities of each parent with regard to the child. It is important that details are spelled out during this process, giving a clear picture of where the child should be at any given time and with which parent. A court may issue a decree called a Paternity Decree or a Decree of Divorce, which identifies who the parents are, who the child is and what the rights and responsibilities of each parent are.

The Texas Family Code specifies standard rights and responsibilities for parents, but sometimes, evidence presented in a particular case dictates that the judge may need to alter them in some way. The court always keeps the child's best interests at the forefront of its decision-making.

In Texas, a "conservator" is defined as a person having possession rights to a child. There are two types of conservators: managing and possessory. Managing conservatorship pertains to who is in charge of making important decisions for the child, such as health care and education. Possessory conservatorship pertains to how much time the child spends with each parent. The law automatically presumes that both parents will be Joint Managing Conservators. However, if information is presented that indicates a history of domestic violence or a lack of prior contact with the child by one parent, a judge can base a custody decision on these facts. The court can decide upon as many Possessory Conservators as it deems fit.

Communication and time spent with a child are crucial to a child's welfare. Individuals who are facing child custody disputes may wish to consult with a family law attorney. The attorney can inform their client of specific visitation rights and responsibilities and help their client gain a favorable outcome in a case.

Source: Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas, "Visitation Rights and Responsibilities ", October 07, 2014

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