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Visitation and child custody enforcement options in Texas

When Dallas parents divorce, there are likely a number of complicated factors that make up a custody agreement. One parent will likely have primary custody of the children, while the other will have visitation rights according to a written schedule.

Unfortunately, sometimes a parent with visitation does not adhere to the schedule and keeps a child with him or her after the child should have been returned. On the other hand, a parent with primary custody may deny the other parent access to the child in spite of court-ordered visitation. In either case, it may become necessary to ask for a court's help in enforcing a child custody or visitation order. Let's take a look at just what the options are in these situations, with the understanding that the information below is general in nature only and does not constitute specific legal advice.

A motion for enforcement is the basic legal remedy for parents. When you ask a court to enforce an order for visitation, you are asking the court to either return the child to the primary conservator or to allow physical access to the child for visitation. Either way, you'll need to have a copy of the original order, in order to demonstrate that the other parent is in contempt (i.e., that he or she has failed to follow the order).

Sometimes an emergency situation -- a parent threatening harm to a child, or to take the child out of Texas -- requires different legal tactics. A habeus corpus proceeding is a way to ask a Texas court to end the possession of a child by someone who does not have the legal right to do so. It's also possible for a Texas court to issue a warrant to take a child into custody, which it may do if it believes a child is at risk of physical harm or of removal from Texas altogether.

These situations are likely to be highly emotional and stressful for a parent. A legal professional can help negotiate the court system and pursue the appropriate tactics most likely to lead to a restoration of legal custody and visitation.

Source: Texas Young Lawyers Association, "What to Expect in Texas Family Law Court," accessed on Nov. 20, 2015

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