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Family Law


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C. Eric Schmidt - Attorney at Law

Marilyn Gale Vilyus - Attorney at Law

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Visitation Issues : Possession Order Chaos

By: Marilyn Gale Vilyus

Sometimes, it just helps to know that you are not the only one!  Texas is very protective of the relationship between the kid(s) and the parent with whom they do not reside.  For my personal convenience for the sake of this article, I am going to assume that the kid(s) are living with their mom!

It would take a good long time to discuss all the problems which can arise with visitation.  This is, after all, an artificial arrangement concocted by well-meaning persons who do not know either you or your kid(s)!!!!

Although you and your spouse can pretty much do as you please between yourselves, the Court would appreciate it if your visitation schedule could be as close as possible to a Standard Possession Order.  This is your typical first, third and fifth weekends schedule; Thursdays during the school year; thirty days during the summer, etc.

Your attorney can describe this for you in its entirety, along with all its nuances!  The purpose of this article is to touch on certain common areas of concern and possible solutions!

  • Daddy’s late to pick up Johnny

Nothing is sadder than a child standing at the door wearing a back-pack waiting to be picked up.  Sadly, sometimes dads get coincidentally held up when you are about to leave town for the weekend with your new boyfriend!

The general rule for acceptable lateness is 15 to 30 minutes.  After that, mom is off the hook.  Moms should always have a backup plan.  Have a relative, neighbor or friend ready to step-in if needed.

  • Every time it’s time for dad’s visitation, Johnny has come down with some strange malady

Funny, while married, this child was never sick at all!  Suddenly,  he’s routinely barely able to leave the house.

Let mom know that you are a co-parent; you can read the instructions on a prescription; you’ve got the number for the pediatrician; and you will be there at 6:00.

Now, I am not saying that sometimes you shouldn’t just “trade days.”  But you are entitled to your visitation and should take action if you suspect that mom is actually deliberately interfering with your time.

  • Dad won’t come for his weekends.

Visitation is a right not a duty.  Document, document, document.  If this happens frequently, you will eventually file a Motion to Modify for the purpose of reducing his visitation time.

  • Mom can’t make the child go to his dad’s house.

Divorce requires an adjustment by everybody.  Kids look to their moms for cues on how to approach this issue.  If mom is comfortable, supportive and encouraging, then Johnny will be more secure with the idea.

The teen years can present special problems.  There are dances, football games and parties almost every weekend!

Try to assure Johnny that he can still attend those things, but that he will just be using dad’s house as “home base.”  (ie. Dad will drop him off and pick him up.)  Offer to let him have a friend spend the night at dad’s house.

  • Mom has a work reunion this weekend and dad has tickets for the baseball game.

Usually, you are both pretty good about trading days, but this weekend is important to each of you and you both want the kids to be with you.

This is when you drag the divorce decree out of the drawer and it acts as the tie-breaker for who is actually entitled to have the kids.  The trick is that, afterwards, you throw the decree back into the drawer and go back to working it out and trading days without holding a grudge!

  • Daddy won’t return the clothes and toys mom sent to his house with the child or the reverse -- mommy refuses to send any clothes or toys to daddy’s house with the child.

Mom and dad – please know that someday the kid(s) are going to grow up and they have long memories!  Thank you both in advance for making sure you are not one of these parents whose "game playing" only hurts the kids involved! 

  • What does dad do when he lives far away?

Following are some suggestions:  providing your child with a personal cell phone, using an internet camera, regular Monday night telephone access, frequent emailing and/or texting, toll free phone numbers, video phones, deduction on child support to allow for air fares and travel expenses, frequent mail letters with small, inexpensive gift items.

Please remember that as your children grow older, they don’t want to be seen with either parent!  It’s all part of the adolescent journey!  Hang in there!  This, too, shall pass!  One day (probably when your kids are home visiting from college), they will let you know how much they appreciate all you did to help them adjust to your divorce!!!

 

 

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