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Enforcing a visitation order

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Compliance with a court's custody and visitation order serves the best interests of the child. However, there are times where a parent, especially the one with custody, violates these orders and the other parent must seek a legal remedy for denied visits. While there are obstacles, Texas courts provide options.

The parent denied visitation still must show up at the arranged exchange location at the correct date and time even if the other parent left a message or advanced notice that they would not comply with the visitation arrangements. It is important to write down in specific detail, what happened and to obtain the names of any witnesses. This also helps undermine the other parent's assertion that they showed up and complied with the terms of the order.

A parent denied visitation may file a motion to enforce the court's order. Before commencing this action, it is important to verify that the custody and visitation order clearly and specifically sets forth the other parent's responsibilities. This order must precisely contain the time, location and date where the child is exchanged.

This motion should contain the part of the order the court should enforce, how the other parent violated that order and what the court should do to correct this violation. The original order may be attached to this motion. It should also contain an attachment setting forth the other parent's pattern of violating the order.

A hearing will be held where the parent seeking court relief must present evidence. This may include witness testimony and information such as receipts or travel documents showing that the parent seeking relief complied with the visitation arrangements and followed the visitation order even though the other parent did not show up. Police evidence may also be relevant.

The motion can contain a request that the court impose sanctions for contempt of court. These include fines, probation and possible incarceration. The parent may seek reimbursement for expenses for seeking visitation and associated with additional parenting time with the children to make up for this lost time.

An attorney can help a parent seek or negotiate a fair, reasonable and enforceable custody and visitation agreement. Legal representation can help assure its enforcement and help prepare a case when the other parent does not comply with visitation terms or there is another custody dispute.

Source: Texas Legal Services Center, "How to enforce a visitation/possession order," Accessed July 20, 2017

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