San Antonio Visitation Agreement Lawyers
Helping You Protect Your Child
A visitation order enables a parent to spend time with their child, even if another parent has sole physical custody (meaning the child lives with them). Occasionally, a parent refuses to grant another caretaker access to a child despite an active visitation order, or oversteps the boundaries of a visitation arrangement.
Our San Antonio visitation enforcement attorneys are here to ensure you receive the legal representation you deserve to protect your child during a visitation enforcement case.
To schedule a consultation with our team or learn more about our services, contact us online or via phone at (210) 761-4943.
What Is a Visitation (Possession) Order?
In Texas, visitation orders are called "possession" orders. There are four different types of visitation orders parents in Texas can receive:
- Standard possession order. In a standard possession order, the noncustodial parent has certain rights (such as access to the child on alternative holidays and the 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekends of every month), but parents can agree on more or less visitation time if they wish.
- Modified possession order. If the parties decide to change the basic layout of a standard possession order in any way, it becomes a modified possession order.
- Possession order for a child under three. Children under three years old may need different provisions than an older child, so the parents can use a modified possession order that will change as the child ages.
- Supervised possession order. In cases where the court judges that a parent is unfit to care for a child, it may mandate supervised visitation. The court can order another family member or a third party such as an agency to supervise visitation.
As you can tell, possession orders are highly customizable and can fit a wide range of circumstances, from parental relationships where the noncustodial parent has a significant amount of time with their child, to arrangements where they must only visit their child under supervision.
How Does Visitation Enforcement Work?
If either party engaged in a visitation order fails to comply with the order, the other party can ask a court to enforce the possession order.
Courts only enforce orders that have "clear, specific and unambiguous" guidelines "as to the duties and responsibilities of the alleged violator." This makes possession orders that use vague terminology such as "if both parties agree" more difficult to enforce, which is why having specific dates, times, and responsibilities established in the contents of a visitation order is so vital.
For a court to enforce your visitation order, you must first file a Motion to Enforce visitation. The motion include three parts:
- Details about the provisions of the possession order (i.e., exactly what part of the order the alleged violator refuses to comply with);
- Details about the alleged violator's behavior (i.e., exactly how they refused to comply with the order); and
- How you want to enforce the order (how you would like the court to penalize the alleged violator).
The person who files the motion is called the "movant" or the "petitioner." The other party is called the "respondent."
Importantly, the petitioner must provide evidence that backs up their claims against an alleged violator. Gaining evidence for these types of cases can be difficult, but a lawyer can help you navigate the process more easily. Examples of common evidence used during visitation enforcement cases includes:
- Testimony from a neutral third party witness;
- Documentation, such as written confirmation from the other party of their refusal to comply with the order;
- Evidence from other sources, such as a police report filed against the alleged violator as a result of their actions.
You can file a motion to enforce after the other party denies you visitation. A denial of visitation occurs when one party arrives on the correct date and time stated in the order to visit or pick up their child, and the other party either fails to show up or refuses to comply with the order.
What Are the Consequences of Violating a Visitation Order?
Courts often apply the following penalties to individuals who refuse to comply with the terms of visitation orders:
- Fines (as determined by the court to be appropriate given an individuals' actions and finances);
- Restitution payments to the petitioner;
- Restitution custody for the petitioner (i.e., make-up time with the child(ren);
- Probation; and
- Jail time (although courts often prefer to avoid sentencing a parent to jail if they can avoid it).
Before the court administers a judgment, both parties must attend a hearing and present their cases to the court. If the court sides with the petitioner, it will levy penalties against the violator.
At The Law Office of Derek S. Ritchie, PLLC, our San Antonio visitation enforcement lawyers can help you take action against a party that fails to comply with the terms of a visitation arrangement.
To schedule a consultation with our team and get the legal counsel you deserve, contact our office online or via phone at (210) 761-4943.