When Texas parents divorce or break up, they can determine their arrangement for child support and parenting time in family court. When one parent is in charge of making decisions and key responsibilities for the child, this is sole managing conservatorship; joint managing conservatorship involves both parents sharing responsibility for those decisions. Even when only one parent has custody of the child, however, both the other parent and the child have the right to time together. If one parent will not cooperate with the parenting time order, the excluded parent may search for solutions.
Enforcing parenting time in court
Unlike unpaid child support, the state’s office of the Attorney General cannot enforce a parenting time order. Instead, district or county courts can take action to issue a court order that requires the other parent to respect the visitation mandate in the child support order.
Courts attempt to resolve disputes collaboratively
Some courts may send the parents to mediation in an attempt to encourage them to resolve their differences, and a child custody and visitation attorney may work with a parent to advocate for their rights in court. Custodial parents are required by law to allow the parenting time provided for in the court order. The goal of the family courts is to achieve an outcome where parents work together with minimal court intervention, but action may be necessary in order to enforce parenting time when one parent refuses.
Parents who refuse the other parent legal visitation may be fined, required to provide make-up parenting time or even sentenced to probation or jail, depending on the seriousness and persistence of the issue. Parents who are denied access their child may also be able to pursue financial compensation from the custodial parent.