Child Visitation Laws determine the rights granted to non-custodial parents or other relatives allowing them to visit and spend time with their child or grandchild, usually after a divorce or separation. This decision is made by a district court judge in the state of Texas.
Visitation and custody are very closely linked and are governed by the best interest principle. This means custody and visitation are determined by what arrangements best meet the interests and welfare of the child.
When the courts determine custody, usually one parent is awarded primary or custodial custody of the child and the other, non-custodial, parent is awarded child visitation rights. The parents are encouraged to negotiate a parenting plan that accommodates both parents' schedules, while best serving the child's needs. If the parents aren't able to agree on visitation and a parenting plan, they may attempt mediation. If that is not successful, they may seek the court's intervention and a court order.
In some cases, where there is evidence of abusive, violent or other dangerous behavior, supervised visitation is ordered. In these cases a trained social worker or other neutral third party must be present while the non-custodial parent has visitation time with the child, or it may require that the visitation occur at a specific place and time. This arrangement is meant to protect the welfare of the child. Although rare, if a court finds that any type of visitation with the non-custodial parent would endanger a child and could result in physical, mental or emotional abuse of the child, the court may completely prohibit visitation.
If either parent violates a visitation order, the parent in violation can be held in contempt of court and fined or jailed until they agree to comply with the order. If the non-custodial parent fails to return the child to the custodial parent when legally required to do so and keeps the child after the custodial parent has demanded the child's return, the parent in violation can face severe sanctions.