Helpful facts about visitation and custody in Texas

Parents who are deciding on child custody and visitation rights should know about the legal process in Texas.

Going through a divorce can be stressful for every member of a Texas family. Sometimes the custody of children can be agreed upon in a way that is amenable to both parents, such as when joint custody is reached. In other cases, the court will order that one parent has sole custody, while the other parent gains visitation rights. Understanding the way that the courts handle these matters will help parents work through a divorce effectively.

The current stance of the courts

Since 2011, visitation and custody have been handled in a fairly predictable manner, thanks to something in the Texas Family Code known as the "standard possession order." This order serves as a model by which parents can behave after a verdict has been reached, and this applies in most decrees. The standard situation that courts will try to reach is a joint custody arrangement. While this is the ideal situation aimed for in most cases, every situation is different, and the courts will take into account various factors in order to determine if joint custody is in fact the best option.

The order is law

Access to children is given final and verbatim status by means of an order signed by the court. This is the only way that visitation can legally be enforced. One way that parents can obtain a custody order is by getting a hold of their local Attorney General's office. If it appears that one party is not following the instructions stated in a court order, the other party can serve a motion obtained from the court, known as a Motion to Enforce a Prior Possession and Access.

Obtaining legal rights to a child

The legal term in the state for visitation is "possession and access." The term for custody is "conservatorship." Some of the following things can qualify a parent to be granted custody of a child:

· If a court order declares the person as the child's parent they are legally considered to be so.

· Another way to legally identify as a father is to sign a form known as an "Acknowledgement of Paternity."

· A father can also be named if, when the child was born, he was legally married to the child's mother.

· The mother of child will be considered a legal parent.

While the above qualifications can automatically grant legal parental status, there may be other ways to determine custody rights, which must be solidified by means of a court order.

Anyone in Texas who is dealing with divorce who is struggling to get custody or visitation rights may be able to get useful legal advice by contacting a local attorney who practices family law.