Posted by Mary E. Ramos | Child Custody
A court custody order does not always meet the expectations of fathers. A court may change a custody order to increase your parenting time so long as you show that you are a committed and involved parent who has addressed any concerning behavioral issues. Below, the attorneys of the Ramos Law Group, PLLC, explain 5 ways for fathers to increase parenting time with their children. These methods involve demonstrating to the court that you have resolved your past issues, cooperated with your ex, and actively participated in your child’s life.
What Is Parenting Time?
In Texas, child custody is called conservatorship. Conservatorship consists of two components:
- The ability to make decisions for the child, and
- Physical possession of the child.
Each parent’s ability to have physical possession of the child and spend time with them is called parenting time. The legal parents of a child generally have the right to participate in their child’s life and spend time with them without needing a court order. However, when parents break up, they often wind up in court, where a parenting time schedule is decided.
Generally, courts use the standard possession order to schedule parenting time. However, there are circumstances where the court will deviate from this plan. For example, parents may need another plan if they live far apart. Additionally, a court will restrict parenting time if one parent has a history of abuse or neglect.
5 Ways for Fathers to Increase Parenting Time
Many fathers would like more parenting time with their children than what’s reflected in a court order. Courts, however, do not take a request to change their orders lightly, so you must build a strong case to support any request to change a court’s parenting time order. Let’s look at some steps you can take to build a stronger case for increased parenting time.
1. Be Involved in Your Child’s Life
You may think this goes without saying, but one of the best ways to build a stronger case is to get involved in your child’s life. Prioritize showing up for your child’s:
- School functions,
- Parent-teacher conferences,
- Sports activities,
- Extracurricular activities, and
- Doctor’s appointments.
While you may already be showing up for significant events, you should also prioritize getting involved with the more mundane activities in your child’s life, like shopping for school clothes or taking them to the dentist.
A court often looks at each parent’s involvement in their child’s life and the parent’s availability for parenting decisions. You can demonstrate your availability by showing up regularly for your child.
2. Help Make Important Decisions for Your Child
Depending on your current situation, you may be able to share in making important decisions affecting your child. Such decisions may be about your child’s:
- Participation in extracurricular activities,
- Medical treatment, and
- Mental health treatment.
Your court order may specify that you share the right to make these decisions in cooperation with the child’s other parent.
This requires you to be involved in your child’s life regularly and to learn how to communicate and cooperate with your child’s mother. Work to set aside any differences so you can openly discuss your child’s well-being.
3. Don’t Miss Scheduled Visitation Time
Life happens, and your schedule or obligations may change over time. But if you are serious about increasing your parenting time in the future, you need to treat the parenting time that you have as though it is your top priority. Rather than changing your parenting time to make room for your plans, you need to change your plans to accommodate your parenting schedule.
Emergencies do happen, and a missed visit may be unavoidable. But do not make tardiness or missed visits a habit. Plus, you must inform your child’s mother immediately if your schedule changes or something unexpected happens. Depending on the situation, you may also be responsible for securing child care if you cannot care for your child due to a conflict.
4. Be Cooperative with the Custodial Parent and Court
If you and your ex share a child, you must work hard to set aside your differences and learn how to communicate so that your child benefits from a relationship with each of you. This may require you to set some rules about the methods you use to communicate. Generally, try to talk only about your child and not each other. Listen to the other person’s perspective, and pause before responding. Demonstrating patience, cooperation, and communication skills with your ex will go a long way in your future request for additional parenting time.
It’s also important to cooperate with the court and to comply with existing court orders. If a court order says that while in the custody of the other parent, you can call the child daily between 7 PM and 8 PM, do not call at 5 PM or 8:30 PM. You must show the court that you respect and obey existing court orders.
5. Invest in Training Such As Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) Certification and Parenting Classes
Parenting doesn’t necessarily come with a definitive handbook, but many resources are available to help you enhance your parenting skills. Taking advantage of these resources also allows you to show a court that you take your role as a parent seriously.
Depending on your circumstances and the reasons for a restricted visitation order, you may consider taking classes such as:
- Parenting classes,
- Anger management classes,
- Caregiver training classes, and
- CPR and first aid classes.
If you have a history of substance abuse, consider joining a 12-Step program or attending substance abuse counseling. Document all the courses you attend and be prepared to discuss how they help your parenting abilities with the court.
Process for Increasing Parenting Time in Texas
If a parenting plan exists, you must request a modification to increase parenting time with your child. Generally, a court will only modify an order if there’s been a significant change in circumstances since the original order. You may be able to demonstrate a significant change in circumstances if you take some of the steps we described above. Additionally, your child’s mother may be more likely to agree to a modification if you cooperate and participate in your child’s life.
Contact Our Office for Help with Increasing Parenting Time
You need an advocate to help you build the strongest case possible when it comes time to request an increase in your parenting time. The attorneys at the Ramos Law Group, PLLC, have handled many parenting time order modifications. Our firm focuses exclusively on Texas family law, and thus, we have extensive experience that helps us advocate successfully for our clients. Contact us today to discuss parenting time or other family law issues.
You might also be interested in:
- Parenting Time and Summer Vacations
- How Old Does a Child Have to Be to Refuse Parenting Time with the Noncustodial Parent?
- Steps to Take if Your Child Refuses Visitation with the Non-Custodial Parent
- What Deems a Parent Noncustodial?
Last Updated on June 4, 2023 by Mary E. Ramos