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Texas judge strips mother of visitation rights

Despite the fact that a child custody order is a binding legal document, things don't always go according to plan. Parents might be late returning or picking up the kids after visitation, or they might miss scheduled exchanges entirely. They may do things, like traveling with the children, that go against the decree. But a recent high-profile case from right here in Texas illustrates that parents defy the court at their own peril.

The case involves NFL star Deion Sanders and his ex-wife Pilar. According to Sanders, his three kids' mother violated their scheduled visitation arrangements more than a dozen times. On one occasion, for example, she kept them for over a week past their exchange date. When Sanders went to her house, she claimed they were outside of the court's jurisdiction.

Eventually Sanders had to obtain a court order authorizing police to forcibly return the children. Once the exchange was complete, Pilar filed a kidnapping report with Child Protective Services along with allegations of abuse. The agency investigated, ruling out the allegations and dropping the charges.

Now, a Texas judge has stripped Pilar of her visitation rights entirely, agreeing with Sanders that it's not in the best interests of the children to see her until further notice. She has also been sentenced to a week in jail.

Compliance with a child custody order, Dallas residents need to be aware, is not optional. It's not a suggestion or a guideline. Police may be called upon when enforcing a child custody order and parents can face serious consequences for violating one.

Having said that, sometimes parents need to seek an agreement modification to a child custody order for legitimate reasons. When this is the case, an attorney can help pursue a modification. Taking the law into one's own hands will rarely, if ever, achieve the desired result.

Source: The Dallas Morning News, "Deion Sanders' ex-wife jailed, loses rights to see kids," Valerie Wigglesworth, Dec. 17, 2014

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