Right to Custody/Visitation
Parents of children have a right to visit and interact with their children, so both the child and the parent can maintain a close relationship. Additionally, parents also have the right to make certain key decisions concerning a child’s well being and upbringing. While the parents of a child are together as a couple, exercising these rights is usually not a big concern. On the other hand, when the couple gets divorced or has never been married and are separated exercising these rights often becomes a large concern of parents.
In order to ensure that a parent and child have adequate time together, the parent can petition a court to issue an order that defines these rights of each parent. Additionally, the rights of the parents to make key decisions regarding the child can be defined between the parents. If the parents are unable to come to a suitable agreement concerning these rights, it will be necessary to have the court decide what will be in the best interest of the child. In Texas, the legislature has provided us a standard visitation schedule to define possession rights. Often this schedule of visitation is followed by the courts. In many cases the order can be vary dramatically from the standard, especially if the parents can agree to a schedule.
Normally, a visitation schedule will need to be established at the time of separation of the parents. Most often, this is done concurrently with the divorce of the parents. Once established, the parents will have to follow the court’s order. Since the order will be effective until at least the child is 18 and the lives of both parents and children can change dramatically during this time, the order can be modified to reflect these changes. This will, however, require a parent to petition the court for a modification of the support order.
Duty to Support Children
Parents have a duty to support their children whether or not they are or were ever married to the child’s other parent. Usually, the major issue when it comes to the duty to support is the payment of child support by non-custodial parents. The amount and frequency of child support payments will normally be set at the time of a divorce of the parents of the child. This is not so in all cases because sometimes the parents were never married or have been separated for some time. In this type of situation parents still have a duty to support their children, and a parent can be ordered to pay child support.
Once child support payments are established, the lives of both the parents and the child can undergo many changes that affect a parents ability to pay support. Therefore, there is a procedure for modification of the support orders that have been in place. The most significant changes that justify a change to support are changes in the paying parent’s income. Support amounts can be modified upward or downward to reflect changes in the parent’s income and employment.
The adoption of a child can be one of the happiest times of a parent’s life. Adoptions provide a great opportunity for the creation of new family relationships. Both the adult and the children, however, want the process to have certainty in establishing the legal relationships. Under Texas law, there are a number of legal requirements that must be met to provide this certainty. Consultation with an attorney before and during this process can help ensure that these requirements are satisfied.