The truth is that there are various ways that an order can be crafted to protect the children and still allow them to have an ongoing relationship with their parent that is struggling with alcohol issues, depending on the severity of the issues.  The solution is normally a combination of protections during periods of possession, testing and/or treatment requirements, and injunctions that depend upon the specific facts of the case.

The court can require or the parties can agree that the struggling parent submit to an alcohol assessment.  Other possible requirements include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. rehabilitation, inpatient and/or outpatient;
  2. breathalyzer testing, before, during, and/or after periods of possession;
  3. ignition interlock and breathalyzer devices; and/or
  4. attending AA meetings

It is important to remember, however, that the options available will depend on the facts of each case, as the court will not require breathalyzer devices unless there is a proven concern.

As far as periods of possession go, the highest level of protection would be supervised possession and access.  Period of possession can be supervised by whatever party the parents can agree to and/or a court-approved visitation program.  It is important to remember that the parties would have to agree to the supervision or the party requesting that the periods of possession be supervised would have to have enough evidence to convince the court that the safety and well-being of the child require that periods of possession be supervised.  If the problem is not so severe to require all possession and access be supervised, periods of possession could also be limited in time or frequency until the parent completes treatment.  Typically, such a possession order will step up to less restrictive periods or possession in phases and into a standard possession either over time or upon completion of different portions of treatment (Ex: Step One- Supervised possession for a few hours every other weekend, Step Two- Unsupervised possession for a few hours every other weekend, Step Three- one overnight every other weekend, Step Four – standard possession order).

Injunctions are additional protections that could be added to the order that require the struggling parent to abstain from alcohol during possession and for a certain period before and after periods of possession.  Additionally, if appropriate, the court could prohibit the struggling parent from transporting the child in a car.

Finally, a provision can be included that in the event of a relapse by the struggling parent, that parent begins again at Step One of the possession schedule to avoid the necessity of having to return to court every time there is a relapse in the future.

For more information, or to discuss what possible options would apply in your specific case, please consult an attorney to discuss the issue.

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Under the Texas Family Code, there are certain circumstances where grandparents can file a suit requesting the court to grant them possession of or access to their biological grandchildren. However, there are certain statutory requirements that the grandparent must prove before the Court can award possession and access to grandparents in Texas.

grandfather carrying grandchild on his shoulders while standing next to grandmother

First, the grandparent(s) must prove that at least one of the child's biological or adoptive parents has NOT had their parental rights terminated. If both parents have had their parental rights terminated, the grandparents will not be able to get possession of or access to the child without first proving that it will be in the child's best interest that possession and access be awarded.

Second, the grandparent(s) must show by a preponderance of the evidence that the children's physical health or emotional well-being would be significantly impaired if the grandparent(s) were not allowed to exercise possession of or access to the children. In Texas, parents are presumed to be able to act in the best interest of their children. As such, the grandparents must rebut that presumption by showing that there would be a significant impairment to the children's physical health or emotional well-being. This is a fairly high burden - one that will not be met simply by showing evidence that the grandchildren love their grandparents and they would be sorely missed if they were not allowed to see their grandparents. A significant impairment has been found in situations where the grandparents have established a continuous relationship with the grandchildren and assumed certain parental responsibilities - i.e. taking the child to their doctor's appointments.

Third, the grandparents must prove that they have been wholly denied possession of or access to the grandchildren by the parent. Just because the grandparents aren't seeing the grandchildren as much as they would like does not mean that they have been wholly denied possession or access. Remember, the court presumes that parents can act in their children's best interest. As such, parents are also presumed to be able to determine appropriate visitation for the grandparents without having the Court order a specific schedule.

Fourth, the grandparents must be able to prove that they are a parent of one of the children's parents and that one of the following is true about that parent of the children:

  1. The children's parent has been incarcerated for at least 3 months before the petition was filed;
  2. The children's parent had been judicially declared incompetent;
  3. The children's parent is dead; or
  4. The children's parent does not have actual court-ordered possession of or access to the children.

There is no standard schedule that the court must order if a grandparent is awarded possession of or access to the grandchildren, but the court will typically order some weekend and holiday periods of possession for a grandparent who meets all of the above criteria.

It is important to keep in mind that the requirements listed above are only for grandparents seeking possession of or access to their grandchildren. The Texas Family Code details a different set of requirements when grandparents are seeking custody of their grandchildren.

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After a divorce, getting your life back on track can be a challenging process, especially if you’re trying to move out of state and navigate a custody agreement. Before you move out of state with your kids, read our blog to learn more about the process to ensure that you are operating within Texas family law.

If you still have questions, or would like to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys to help you work through this process, please contact us today.

Moving Out of State with Custody and an Agreeable Spouse

First and foremost, if your spouse is agreeable to you relocating to another state with your kids, then you will be free to do. The divorce decree would have to specify that you are the conservator with the exclusive right to determine the primary residence without regard to geographic location or within a certain geographic area that includes the area to which you would like to relocate.

Please keep in mind that an agreement with your spouse could include a geographic restriction that includes more than one place. For example, you could agree to a geographic restriction that says that you have the right to establish the child’s residence within Houston (Harris and its contiguous counties) and/or your hometown.

Can I Move if My Spouse Is Not Agreeable?

If your spouse is not agreeable, it is likely that your ability to move could be restricted to a geographical area.

Section 153.001(a) of the Texas Family Code states:

The public policy of this state is to:

  1. assure that children will have frequent and continuing contact with parents who have shown the ability to act in the best interest of the child;
  2. provide a safe, stable, and nonviolent environment for the child; and
  3. encourage parents to share in the rights and duties of raising their child after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage.

When rendering an order appointing parents as joint managing conservators, the court shall designate on conservator as the one the has the exclusive right to determine the primary residence of the child. Additionally, the court shall specify either the geographic area within which that conservator can establish the child’s primary residence or that the conservator can establish the child’s primary residence without regard to geographic area.

Factors the Court May Consider

The Texas Family Code does not explicitly state the factors a trial court should consider in deciding whether a geographic restriction would be in the best interest of the child. However, there are a number of things that courts have looked at in the past, including, but not limited to the following:

Reasons for and against the move

  • The opportunities afforded by the move
  • Whether the move could assist in meeting the child’s special needs or unique talents
  • The effect of move on relationships with extended family
  • The effect on the noncustodial parent’s visitation and communication with the child
  • The child’s age
  • The noncustodial parent’s ability to relocate

Also, it is important to note that even if you are appointed as sole managing conservator of your child the court still can restrict the ability to designate the primary residence of the child. Although the section of the Texas Family Code that deals with the appointment of the rights and duties of a parent who is appointed sole managing conservator does not specifically mention a geographic restriction, it does say that the rights can be limited by order of the court.

Schedule a Consultation

If you’re still unsure about whether you’re legally within your rights to move out of the state under your custody arrangement, make sure you consult with an experienced Texas family law attorney before you make any decisions. To speak with one of our attorneys regarding whether you can move out of the state with your children, please contact us today.

If you’re going through a divorce and you and your spouse have children, it’s important to take parenting classes to learn how to communicate effectively to serve their best interests. However, the court may also require that you and your spouse attend classes as part of an agreement made with your child custody lawyer. Above, board certified family law attorney Mary E. Ramos outlines a few of the benefits of parenting classes during a divorce in Texas.

Parenting After Your Divorce

There is a four-hour parenting class that’s required and depending on the court, you may be required to attend multiple classes. Our attorneys encourage clients to take these classes early on, so that they have that knowledge and information to utilize during the case. The parenting class doesn’t teach you how to be a parent, but it teaches you how to communicate in two different households. This is where you can leverage the benefits of parenting classes.

It can be hard enough to discipline children in one household; in two separate households, being able to discipline and communicate with your children can become extremely difficult. Children of divorce will learn how to manipulate their parents, and parents, despite their separation, need to be on the same page with how they’re going to move forward and address these issues.

If divorced parents don’t talk to each other, children will pick up on it and start to say what each parent wants to hear. If you are on the same page with the other parent, you can address concerns you have with your children directly with the other parent — not through your child. It’s a better way to protect your child from being impacted with the divorce process. Regardless of your divorce, you’re going to be a co-parent for the rest of your life.

Contact Our Team Today

Choosing a divorce lawyer and going through a divorce can be one of the most emotionally challenging events in one’s life, and attending co-parenting courses with your spouse will be no different. Yet the benefits of parenting classes during a divorce extend well beyond satisfying the orders of the judge; it’s important to put the wellbeing of your children front and center to help them with this difficult transition.

If you have more questions about parenting classes during a divorce in Texas, or you need the expert advice of a board certified family law attorney, schedule an appointment with Ramos Law Group, PLLC, today.

parental alienation syndrome

While divorce is generally unpleasant for all parties involved, usually it is the children who are the most severely affected. It is all too easy for parents to get so caught up in their own emotional distress that they miss how their actions affect their children. Unfortunately, sometimes manipulative parents will attempt to turn their children against the other spouse. The resulting Parental Alienation Syndrome, or PAS, is a common issue that must be addressed appropriately during and after the divorce process.

divorced family post it sketch

What is PAS?

PAS is when one parent intentionally tries to sabotage a child’s relationship with the other parent. This is usually done so that they will be able to get an ideal custody situation, regardless of what is in the best interest of the child. An experienced family lawyer in Houston will be able to recognize the signs of developing PAS, and hopefully help stop it before it is too late. PAS is a process that takes time. A parent does not simply buy a child a new toy to change their thought process and influence the outcome of the divorce.. Planting negative seeds, telling lies, and misrepresenting the spouse are all common methods used to gain favor from children in limbo.

Warning Signs

There are many signs that a parent is not handling the divorce in a healthy way in regard to their children. A good family lawyer in Houston will be able to help you to identify the problem, but there are times when you may need to recognize it on your own. There are obvious red flags as well as subtle ones. For example, if your child is clearly unhappy with you for no apparent reason, it may be because the other spouse has said something. However, it is essential that you do not attempt to question the child, as that can just cause further confusion and feelings of resentment. The most obvious sign of PAS is when a parent makes disparaging comments about the other spouse in front of a child.

Your court case is a matter between you and the spouse. Neither of you should be discussing the case with your children at any time. If your children are asking questions about the case, or if they say anything related to it, you should call a family lawyer in Houston immediately. Protecting your relationship is possible with help of an attorney, but you need to act quickly. If your spouse refuses to allow visitation rights, that is another way to cause PAS.

How Does a Child Fall Victim to PAS?

parental alienation

If a child does begin to seem like they favor the other parent, it can be very discouraging. It is important to keep in mind that many children are not developed enough to understand that they are being manipulated. If they feel like they are caught in a constant push and pull, simply choosing a side can seem like an easy way to make the struggle stop. They may also want to avoid feeling rejected by the other spouse, or incurring their anger if they disagree. In many cases, siding with one parent is just an attempt to resolve conflict.

What Can You Do?

The moment you detect any signs of PAS, contact a family lawyer in Houston immediately. If your custody rights have already been established, it may be possible to modify them in your favor. If you are still going through the divorce proceedings, proof of PAS can work to your advantage. Ramos Family Law has the skills and experience to be able to help you in this difficult situation. Call 713-225-6200 today to schedule a consultation about PAS.

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If you are a father living in Texas, and you have possession of your children pursuant to a standard possession order, June brings great news: extra time to spend with your kids!

How does this work? A standard possession order grants visitation on the first, third and fifth weekend of every month. The last weekend in May, May 31-June 2, is considered the 5th weekend of May.  Therefore, the first weekend in June is June 7th- June 9th. That means you will have possession of your children two weekends in a row, during the fifth weekend of May and the first weekend of June.

The very next weekend, the second weekend of June, is Father’s Day. Father’s Day means additional periods of possession for Texas dads. Most fathers are entitled to spend the entire Father’s Day weekend with their children, making Father’s Day the third weekend in a row that you will have possession of your kids.

The 3rd weekend in June is June 21st-June 23rd and the standard possession order is in effect, making this weekend the fourth consecutive weekend that you will have possession. Happy Father’s Day to all Texas dads, and for those with standard possession orders, enjoy this June gift of more time with your children!

Summary Of Visitation For Dads (June - 2019)
May5th WeekendMay 31st-June 2nd
June1st WeekendJune 7th- June 9th
June2nd Weekend - Father's DayJune 14th-June16th
June3rd WeekendJune 21st-June 23rd


The material obtained from this site is not intended to be legal advice. Please consult an attorney for advice regarding your own legal situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls and emails. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

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Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is the deliberate attempt by a parent to destroy the relationship between their children and the other parent. The alienating parent’s goal is to destroy the children’s bond with the other parent and establish themself as “the best parent.”

Parental Alienation Syndrome does not occur over night. It is a systematic process which ultimately results in the destruction of a child’s relationship with the other parent. Parental Alienation Syndrome is frequently observed in hotly contested child custody cases and it is important that parents and attorneys are vigilant as to the symptoms of PAS. Some of the signs of PAS include:

  1. Negative statements about the other parent in front of the child or children. A parent who is exhibiting behaviors symptomatic of PAS will do their best to put the other parent in a negative light by making negative comments about the other in front of the children. This behavior results in the children mimicking the sentiments of the alienating parent.
  2. Involving the children in the pending litigation puts parental alienation syndrome in court. A divorce or custody battle is a matter between two adults. Children should not be privy to the details of a battle between their parents and a parent who willfully exposes a child to such details is often attempting to tarnish the child’s relationship with their other parent.
  3. Refusal to Co-Parent. Co-parenting is an integral part of raising a child and a parent who refuses to co-parent is often not concerned with the best interest of the child, but only destroying the bond.

A divorce or custody battle is already emotionally trying time for a child. A parent who inflicts the above behaviors is inflicting parental alienation syndrome, which will only increase the turmoil that a child goes through. If you believe that the other parent is exhibiting signs of parental alienation, please contact the Ramos Law Group, PLLC.

Recommended Resources:

Welcome Back, Pluto

  • Understanding, Preventing, and Overcoming Parental Alienation™

We recommend that both parents learn about parental alienation syndrome  as there are several levels and for the most part we are all guilty of PAS of some form.    At our firm, we recommend that clients watch the “Welcome Back, Pluto” video by Dr . Richard A. Warshak which helps parents understand, prevent and overcome parental alienation (Warshak, Welcome Back Pluto).

Chapter Titles:

  1. What is alienation?
  2. Understanding alienated children
  3. Mistakes favored parents make
  4. What’s in a name?
  5. Understanding favored parents.
  6. The plight of rejected parents.
  7. Tips for parents
  8. Tips for kids

Divorce Poison – Signs of Parental Alienation Syndrome

  • How to Protect Your Family from Bad-mouthing and Brainwashing

He is also the author of “Divorce Poison” which is another guide to help a parents prevent and overcome parental alienation.   If your spouse is bad-mouthing you to your children it is critical that you choose the correct approach in addressing the issue.   Handling the issue poorly could lead to losing your children’s respect and affection (Warshak, Divorce Poison).

This title offers specific advice to protect children from Parental Alienation Syndrome.  In it, you will learn (Warshak, Divorce Poison):

  • How to respond when your children join forces with your ex
  • How to react if your children refuse to see you
  • How to answer rude and hateful behavior
  • How to insulate children from the harmful effects of bad-mouthing
  • How to identify and correct your own contributions to parent-child conflicts
  • How to defend against false accusations of brainwashing
  • How to choose the best therapist and lawyer
  • How reconcile with children after years of estrangement

Works Cited

Warshak, Richard A., Dr. “Divorce Poison: How to Protect Your Family from Bad-mouthing and Brainwashing.” Divorce Poison. Dr. Warshak, n.d. Web. 30 May 2013.

Warshak, Richard A., DR. “Welcome Back, Pluto Understanding, Preventing, and Overcoming Parental Alienation™.” Welcome Back, Pluto. Dr. Warshak, n.d. Web. 30 May 2013.

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Parental custody of a child who doesn’t want it creates a difficult position for everyone involved. As a custodial parent, it’s your responsibility to foster a relationship between your child and their father even if your relationship with their father is strained. But as you surely know, it can be difficult to convince a child or teenager to do anything they do not want to do. It will be you, the parent, who faces repercussions for your child’s refusal to visit with a parent who has child custody rights.

Potential Repercussions

As a custodial parent, you can be found in contempt for failure to comply with the court’s visitation order. Parents found in contempt may be forced to pay fines, attorney’s fees, and can face up to six months in jail per violation. Family law judges do not take kindly to parents being unable to visit with their children and a finding of contempt reflects very badly on you as a parent in any future litigation involving the child. Learn more about Texas child custody laws for a better understanding of potential risks.

You can’t physically make a teenager get into a vehicle and you probably don’t want visitation to be a point of contention in your relationship with your child, but you need to remember that you are the adult and visitation is not up to the child. The judge won’t punish the child for their refusal to visit with a parent with child custody rights, those repercussions will come down on you.

Finding a Solution

So what can you do? If you have a decent relationship with your ex, it can be helpful to present a united front to your child. If you do not have a relationship with your ex, it’s important to stress to your child that both parents are a part of their life and that their refusal to visit with the other parent opens you up to liability for their actions according to Texas child custody laws.

A Resource for Additional Help

The experienced attorneys of the Ramos Law Group practice family law exclusively. They can help you navigate the most difficult aspects of child custody rights to the most beneficial arrangement for your family. If you are having issues with your current custody arrangement or have further questions, please contact the Ramos Law Group, PLLC.

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Independent Rights

Under the Texas Family Code, the right to receive child support and the right to visitation are two independent rights that do not have any weight on the other right. The ability to visit with your children is not dependent on your ability to pay child support. The obligation to pay child support does not disappear if the responsible parent is denied visitation or chooses to no longer possess the child during their periods of visitation.

Best Interest Of The Child

Texas family law courts look at what is in the best interest of the child, and having a continuing relationship with a parent, even if that parent is not current on child support, is in the best interest of a child. You may file an enforcement action against a non-paying parent but you cannot prevent that parent from visiting with their child. Doing so would be a violation of your order. If you refuse to allow a non-paying parent visitation you are giving that parent cause to take you to family court for violating an access and visitation order.

If you are having issues with a parent who is failing to pay child support, please call to schedule a consultation with an experienced Houston Child Support Lawyer at (713) 225-6200 or visit us on the web at

MUST READ: See Pitfalls of using the SAFE Program

The SAFE Program For Supervised Visitation In Texas
The SAFE program is a service of the Victim Assistance Centre (VAC) for supervised visitation in Texas. VAC is a non-profit organization operating in the Houston area. The SAFE program provides a neutral setting for parents to visit with their children while being monitored by staff members.

The SAFE Program is usually court-ordered in situations where there have been allegations of physical or emotional abuse, drug use or other problems. The goal of SAFE is to provide a stress-free environment for children to visit with a parent.

Benefits Of SAFE Supervised Visitation In Texas

A benefit of SAFE is that there is no interaction between the parents and the entire time a parent spends with their child is devoted to fun and positive interaction. SAFE enables parents to establish a good visitation history with their children, which can be reported to the court through unbiased reports. These reports contain information taken from staff members’ observations during the visits. SAFE makes no recommendations to the court and has no control over the length of time parents participate in the program.

There are several SAFE Program locations throughout Harris County. There is an enrollment fee of $75 and the visiting parent is responsible for the $60 per visitation fee.

Critical Tip : Consult an attorney before accepting SAFE as your visitation and access program.

Pitfalls Of Using The Safe Program For Supervised Visitation In Texas

  • SAFE program staff are not your friends. Treat them with respect and kid gloves but remember they will document their perception of events.
  • SAFE program staff take sides so be careful when communicating with them or in front of them.
  • SAFE program staff will testify with regards to their observations even when they lack the qualifications to provide the same.
  • SAFE program staff may refuse to put things in writing. If this is the case, send a fax requesting a response in writing. You may need a few of these over a reasonable period to
    show you made several attempts to work with the organization. Make sure to keep the fax confirmation receipt to present to the judge.
  • SAFE program may take an extended amount of time to schedule visitation and access. Currently, the wait for your first visit is about three months.

Victim Assistance Centre Contact Information:

Victim Assistance Centre
Safe Supervised Visitation
1310 Prairie, Suite 1030
Houston, Texas 77002

Phone: 713-274-7391 – (New as of 2016)
Fax: 713-755-8824

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Consult With An Attorney First

Mary E. Ramos and her experienced attorneys are among the top divorce and family law experts in the Houston area. If you have been referred to the SAFE program, please contact the Ramos Law Group, PLLC for a consultation with an attorney to discuss your case.

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