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The concept of reasonable visitation

A judge will often order reasonable visitation when deciding a child custody matter in Texas. Reasonable visitation simply means that the non-custodial parent is entitled to some amount of visitation with the child that generally adheres to state guidelines and is considered to be reasonable. The judge leaves the actual coordination and planning of a visitation schedule to the parents themselves. This is directly opposite of a fixed visitation schedule wherein the judge orders times, and possibly locations, that must be adhered to.

If it is found that the parents are likely to work together on visitation, then the judge is likely to order reasonable visitation. This form of visitation is preferred because it allows for more flexibility between the parents. They can keep their own schedules and work around them, even changing the visitation schedule as needed. A flexible visitation schedule is generally easier on families and children, and it is less likely that a party would be held in contempt for failing to follow the court order.

A reasonable visitation order can put a non-custodial parent at a disadvantage. Since there is no specified time or amount of time for visitation, a non-custodial parent must usually adhere to whatever schedule the custodial parent provides. Custodial parents are not required to alter any part of their schedules to accommodate visitation, but there is the general expectation that they will make the child available in a reasonable fashion.

If a person is facing a situation where the custodial parent is commonly preventing visitation, the best course of action may be to petition for a modification of child custody. An attorney can help a person with a modification, arguing that visitation is being unreasonably withheld. The modification could change the reasonable visitation to a fixed visitation that would ensure time with the non-custodial parent.

Source: FindLaw, "Parental Visitation Rights FAQ", accessed on Jan. 9, 2015

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