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Do I get automatic visitation rights to my child after a divorce?

Even though there seems to be a nationwide push for shared parenting plans to be used post divorce, it is not uncommon for one spouse in Texas to be granted full custody of children in some cases. If a shared or joint custody arrangement isn't a possibility, for whatever the reason, the parent who was not granted custody may wonder if they are at least entitled to visitation rights. In this week's blog post, we are going to explore visitation rights, parental roles and the standard possession order.

Visitation is also commonly known as possession and access in Texas family courts. Parents generally do have the right to gain possession and access to their child post divorce, unless there is reason to believe it would not serve in the child's best interest. One of the main reasons for visitation requests to be denied is a documented history of physical and/or emotional abuse.

If a judge finds the noncustodial parent is eligible for visitation, there are certain parental roles that parent must be ready to accept. During visitation times, the parent in possession is responsible for the health, physical and emotional well-being and discipline of their child. They are also granted the right to seek any necessary medical care their child may require. Parents who are considered fit for visitation and are willing to accept these responsibilities will likely be granted a standard possession order.

In Texas, a standard possession order is a detailed visitation schedule. Certain state approved guidelines are used when this schedule is formed, and the age of the child or children will be a determining factor in the level of visitation offered to the noncustodial parent. If desired, it is possible to request changes to a standard possession order to better suit specific family needs. Difficult as it may be to accept, visitation is not a guaranteed right in every case; however, help in achieving possession and access is available to parents is Texas who desire time with children after a divorce is finalized.

Source: womenslaw.org, "Know the laws: Texas Custody", Dec. 2, 2014

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