When a couple decides to get divorced they may have decided that they no longer want to be part of each other’s lives. However, if they have had children together, they will soon discover that they cannot permanently remove themselves from each other’s life. The marriage may be over, but parenting lasts a lifetime.
Unfortunately, many mistakes are made when it comes to divorced parents and their children. It is imperative that when a couple divorces they understand that the children must be the most important focus of the divorce. Some parents are able to divorce amicably and reach their own divorce agreement that is geared with the children’s best interests at heart. Yet, there are also many cases where the parent’s anger, bitterness, and resentment take over reason, and the children become unwitting pawns in the game of divorce.
The state of Texas has looked at the issue of children and divorce carefully and have taken pro-active steps to help ensure that children will be cared for in a loving and positive manner by both parents. The first step that they have initiated is to rule in favor of Joint Managing Conservatorship. This basically states that both mother and father should share joint custody of the children. Though the children will have to have one main permanent residence, it is the will of the court, as well as in the best interest of the child, for both parents to have liberal and frequent access to the children.
Unfortunately, sometimes the best-laid divorce plans go wrong. After the divorce is final, one parent may begin to withhold visitation from the other parent. Not only is this difficult for the children involved, it is also against the law. If you have a divorce agreement or court order that specifies visitation your ex spouse must adhere to the dictates within that order. If they withhold visitation, you should seek the advice of an attorney; you may need to go back to court.
Another situation that may occur is if one parent falls behind in their child support payments, the other spouse may try to withhold visitation. Again, this is not in the best interest of the children and it is also against the law. Child support and visitation are two separate issues. If there is a problem with child support, it should be addressed with the proper channels, visitation should never be used as a weapon against the other parent.
In Texas, orders for visitation are referred to as “Possession”. Texas law also maps out in great detail when the non-custodial parent should have visitation with their child or children. Most courts are in favor of parents that are willing to work together to ensure that the children spend ample time during the week, on weekends, holidays, vacations, and on birthdays with both parents.
There are many times when it may be necessary to modify the divorce order. Sometimes, it may even be in the best interest for children to move their primary residence from one parent to the non-custodial parent. Any time there is grounds for modification, a petition may be filed with the court to modify both the Joint Management Conservatorship as well as Possession.