Tag Archives: visitation

Virtual Visitation: Parenting Time in the Digital Age

Now more than ever, parents and kids use technology to keep in touch. Advances including Zoom, FaceTime, email, and text have made it possible for parents and their children to forge close connections through a virtual visitation—even when one parent lives far away.

Texas law has changed over time, as well. Texas is one of several states that allow virtual visitation. The law is codified in Texas Family Code Section 153.015. Also called “e-visitation” or “e-access,” virtual visitation helps parents stay close to their children by having regularly scheduled online visits. 

It’s most often used in certain situations:  

  • When one parent lives far away, like in a different state or country
  • When frequent contact between the parent and child is required
  • When a family’s schedule or special needs make virtual visitation in the child’s best interests

Virtual Visitation Rules

Virtual visitation is allowed by Texas courts only when it’s in the best interests of the child. Courts weigh a series of factors to determine this, including the child’s needs and the parent’s capacity. Courts also make sure that the family has access to the technology necessary to make this work smoothly. It may seem like this is a given, but many people still struggle with access to technology.

Generally, courts order virtual visitation to supplement in-person visitation—not to replace it. A typical schedule may involve some virtual visitation in between periods of regular in-person visitation. For example, maybe Dad’s regular days are Tuesday and Thursday, but he likes to attend his kids’ soccer games virtually or help with homework on the days he’s not there in person.

There are some situations—like when a parent is an abuser or has substance abuse issues—that virtual visitation may not be appropriate. Courts look to protect children from their abusers, and virtual visitation is not adequate protection.

Parents must also promise not to interfere in the virtual visitation. It works best in situations in which a parent lets the child talk freely with the other parent without the conversation being monitored or interfered with.

Get the Support You Need To Bring You and Your Kids Closer

If you’re thinking that virtual visitation might be an option for you and your family, talk with the lawyers at the Schneider Law Firm. At our Ft. Worth law office, our attorneys can represent you in the child custody matters you face. Call 817-755-1852 or send us a message to discuss your situation and how we can get the best possible outcome for you.

Visitation During COVID-19

When co-parents plan for the time they’ll spend with their children, they typically don’t think of the unexpected. Sometimes global events beyond our control change things very quickly, and it leaves parents wondering: What does Texas family law say about visitation during coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Being With Your Child Is an Essential Activity

Many Texas shelter-in-place orders specifically allow traveling to exchange your children. It’s an essential activity. You’re not violating an order to stay at home if you’re dropping off or picking up your child following a court order related to possession of and access (often called visitation).

Generally, you and your co-parent should stick with your schedule. But, what if you’re worried the other parent may have been exposed to COVID-19? Like anything else, keeping a child from the other parent comes with risks. You could get in trouble with the court for doing it without a valid reason.

If you choose to keep a child with you instead of sending him or her to spend time with the other parent, it’s a good idea to document your reasoning and keep any evidence that could be applicable, just in case. Each situation is different, so talk with your lawyer about what’s best for you.

Co-Parenting Is Key During Difficult Times

As long as your court orders say it’s okay, you and the other parent are free to agree to the possession and exchange methods that work best for your family. So, if you and your co-parent are willing to work together, it could be a good idea to plan for what to do:

  • Agree to follow social distancing guidelines and CDC recommendations
  • Talk specifically about what behaviors to enforce, like washing hands or wiping down the outsides of takeout boxes and groceries before bringing them into the home
  • Decide what to do if a parent knows they have been exposed to coronavirus
  • Decide what to do if one parent or both parents get sick
  • Discuss how to protect other people in the child’s life, like the elderly and people who are immunocompromised
  • Discuss what do to in the event of school activity and summer camp cancellations

If you both respectfully agree to follow the same behaviors in your homes, and if you have a plan in place, you’ll be well prepared to work together to be the best parents you can be during a difficult time. 

Talk With an Attorney About Visitation and Your Rights

The COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented. Courts, families and their attorneys have to make decisions based on the law, common sense and a shared goal of protecting families. 

If you’re worried about your access to your child or your child’s safety, talk with the lawyers at the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., by calling 817-799-7125 or send us a message. Consultations with our attorneys are confidential. 

Source: https://texaslawhelp.org/article/coronavirus-and-child-visitation

How Allegations of Family Violence Can Affect a Texas Divorce

Family violence happens when someone uses abusive or controlling behavior to harm another member of the family. It can be complicated and deeply personal. While violence takes different forms in every family it touches, one thing remains constant: Domestic violence can have a significant impact on the outcome of a divorce. Here are some things to consider.

Family Violence and the Divorce Process

The divorce process is often different for people who face violence in their family relationships. Victims of domestic violence also have legal tools they can use for protection. One option is to petition the court for a protective order (sometimes called a restraining order). When a protective order is in place, it can affect many different things–from where a spouse lives during the divorce process to how often he or she sees the children.
Options for resolution are different, too. For example, mediation is often used as a tool for couples to come to an agreement on the issues in their divorces. However, professionals do not recommend medication for couples when domestic violence is a factor. The reason? Judges and lawyers worry that one spouse will have too much leverage in negotiations, and the outcome won’t be fair.
Domestic violence can also speed up a divorce. The Texas Family Code says that couples must wait at least 60 days after filing a divorce petition for a divorce to be final. But this requirement can be waived in cases involving domestic violence.

Family Violence and Child Custody

Judges consider the “best interests of the child” when making child custody decisions. If one parent has a history of domestic violence, the judge will consider that as part of the best interests’ evaluation. Texas law says that parents who physically or sexually abused their children during the previous two years cannot have custody. Even if the kids were never harmed, domestic violence affects things like the ability of parents to make major parenting decisions together, as well as child custody drop-offs.

Family Violence and Property Division

Texas is a community property state. Generally, couples split the things they acquired during the marriage 50/50. However, there are some exceptions, including family violence. Domestic violence can be a reason for courts to decide on the unequal division of assets.

Fighting False Allegations of Violence

Our firm has handled several cases where on spouse made false allegations of family abuse in order to influence a pending divorce or child custody case. This is a serious injustice, and we won’t let our clients be falsely accused. We believe in fighting allegations aggressively and protecting our clients’ rights.

Choose an Attorney With Family Violence Experience

When you are choosing your divorce lawyer, pick one who has experience in domestic violence and divorce. Your lawyer will be experienced in advocating for your rights during the divorce process so that they are protected. You can get started by calling the Arlington office of the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., at 817-799-7125.

What if an Existing Child Custody Plan Isn’t Working?

As time passes after a divorce, it’s common for child custody plans to stop being as convenient – and appropriate–as they once were. Children grow up. They become teenagers with lives of their own. Sometimes parents move away. Other times, their situations change and they can’t parent the way they once did.
If your existing child custody plan has stopped working for your family, you are not stuck with it. Texas family law allows for modification of existing child custody plans. Here’s what you should know.

If Both Parents Agree, Things Are Easier

As with most parenting decisions, things are easier if both parents agree that the child custody order should be modified. When parents agree, all they need to do is submit a proposed custody order to the court. In most cases, the court reviews the proposed custody order and approves it.
Unfortunately, life is rarely that simple. If parents disagree about the change, they must both appear in court to have the order modified.

You Must Show a Significant Change in Circumstances

In order to grant a child custody modification, Texas family courts require you to show that a material and substantial change in circumstances has occurred. You must prove that the change in circumstances makes your current arrangement inappropriate or unworkable, as well as that the proposed change is in the child’s best interests. If you request the modification, that burden of proof rests with you.
What does “material and substantial in circumstances” mean? It depends on your case. Many different changes can qualify.

  • Texas courts have granted a modification when doctors diagnosed a child with a health issue that meant his parents needed to care for him differently.
  • They have also granted modifications when one parent was unable to find significant employment in Texas and was forced to relocate for work.
  • Courts have also granted modifications when a parent struggled with substance abuse and was no longer able to care for a child safely.

Older Children Have Some Say in the Matter

Texas law makes a distinction between children younger than 12 and children who are 12 years old and older. When a child is 12 and wishes to change the primary caregiver, courts may grant the modification. It’s likely that the judge will want to talk privately with the child, and the request will only be granted if the judge believes it’s in the child’s best interests.

Talking With a Lawyer Is a Good Idea

If your family’s needs have changed and an existing child custody plan is no longer working for you, talking with an attorney is a good first step. At the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., we can talk with you confidentially about your situation and help you take the best course of action. Call our Arlington law office at 817-799-7125 to get started.