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Houston’s Child Visitation Lawyers

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Houston Child Visitation Lawyers

Ramos Law Group has been involved in many cases where child visitation rights were an important issue. Here, we’ll discuss some of the basic guidelines for visitation with advice from some of the best child visitation lawyers at our firm.

Who will the child live with?

When it comes to child visitation and access, the courts will generally determine one parent as the conservator. This parent will have the right to determine the primary residence of the child. Most courts try to be extremely fair when deciding visitation and access, so regardless of the designation, the child will spend significant amounts of time living at both parents’ homes. Child visitation rights are meant to ensure both parents see their children.

How is the conservator selected?

Often, parents reach an agreement regarding these issues. If the parents can’t agree, the court will designate one parent as the conservator with the right to determine the primary residence of the child based on the best interest of the child. The court, along with child visitation lawyers, will determine the child’s best interest based on evidence from the amicus attorney, recommendation of psychologist, the testimony of the parents, school, and medical records, and testimony of other individuals who can help the court understand the situations of all parties.

Child visitation lawyers will present each parent’s case, and the court will weigh the ability of the parties to provide for the child’s emotional and physical needs, to create a stable home, to foster good relationships between the child and the other parent, and any other factors that may be relevant to the best interest of the child.

How is the amount of visitation determined?

Child visitation rights are outlined in the Texas Family Code and include a standard possession order that states the minimum reasonable contact between a child and a non-possessory parent. The standard possession order is presumed to be in the best interest of a child over the age of three.

Unless evidence is presented that the standard or expanded standard possession order is not in the child’s best interest, this will be the amount of visitation ordered by the court. Although the parties can work with their child visitation lawyers to agree to a different possession, generally the amount of visitation for a child under three is determined based on the age and needs of the child.

What is the standard possession order visitation schedule?

The standard possession order states that for parents who live within 100 miles of each other, visitation should occur:

  • Every first, third, and fifth weekend of the month.
  • Every Thursday during the school year.
  • For 30 days during the summer.
  • On alternating holidays.

The standard order states that weekend visitation begins Friday at 6:00 p.m. and ends Sunday at 6:00 p.m., and that Thursday visitation is from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. every week. If a parent elects, they may request their child’s visitation lawyers look into expanding this possession so that the visitation time begins as soon as the child is released from school and ends in the morning when the child returns to school.

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 a nonrefundable annual enrollment fee per party of $100 and the visiting parent is responsible for the $70 per month program fee due on the 1st of the month. Cost of private visitation includes:

  • 2-hour visit $90
  • 3-hour visit $130
  • 4-hour visit $165
  • Call for pricing on visits lasting longer than 4 hours.

Pitfalls Of Using The Safe Program For Supervised Visitation In Texas

SAFE program staff is 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.

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

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The standard visitation schedule doesn’t work for my family, are there other options?

Some visitation schedules allow parents who live close to one another to share custody on a 50/50 basis. Other visitation schedules can be drafted to allow regular visitation for a parent who does not have a standard 9-5 work week. Long distance travel provisions can be added for parents who live considerable distances apart.

The child visitation lawyers at the Ramos Law Group can help you create a unique, clear, and enforceable visitation schedule that works for your family.

We want to split time with the kids 50/50, will the court approve that?

Just because parents agree to 50/50 custody, does not mean that the Court will approve their agreement. 50/50 custody arrangements are complicated and can create unexpected problems for parents who do not fully understand the legal ramifications of their agreements, so judges are hesitant to sign off on agreements that may result in additional litigation in the future.

Work with the best

While child visitation rights are often a complex matter, the experienced child visitation lawyers at the Ramos Law Group are familiar with the preferences and requirements of the judges in the greater Houston area. Reach out to us today to ensure a visitation schedule that meets your needs and the needs of your child.

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