Saturday, November 1, 2014

Texas Family Law Myths #1 - At age 12 a chid gets to select when they visit the non-custodial parent

Children do not get to decide their visitation schedule with their parents until the day they turn 18 and become an adult under Texas law.

Years ago the TX legislature allowed a child to sign a written non-binding statement stating who they would like to live with.  This has been eliminated by the TX legislature.  (Section 153.008 was repealed in 2009.)

Instead the TX legislature, wrote a new law which appears in the TX Family Code Section 153.009 where a judge can interview a child over the age of 12 in chambers to talk to the child.  This is non-binding on the judge.  The judge is allowed to interview children under 12 if they want to do so.

Just because a teen-ager does not want to visit the non-custodial parent does not mean that the judge won't order it.  Quite frankly, most teenagers want to be with their friends and don't want to be spending their time with either parent.  Most judges will tell the kid "get over it" and order the visitation.

If the custodial parent cannot "control" the minor child and cannot make the child get into the non-custodial parent's vehicle, I've seen the judge change custody.  If a parent cannot "control" a teen-ager then perhaps they should not be the primary custodian.  Children are supposed to do what the adult tells them to do - not the other way around.

Judges look at the "best interest of the child" test.  It is in the best interest of the child to have a relationship with both parents.

All of that said, if a child's life is in danger or the parent is mentally unstable or on drugs, then a judge will order either supervised or no visits.

This is not a simple area of the law.  Both parents are presumed by the judge to be equal.  The burden falls on the parent trying to stop or change the current visitation schedule to show the judge why a judge should limit the other parent's parental rights.

Can this be done?  Absolutely.  You need an experienced family law attorney to present your evidence.  You need witnesses to support your claims.  Mere fears and suspicions usually won't work.

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