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When Can Courts Limit or Deny Visitation Rights?

In Texas, the guiding principal when deciding visitation issues is the best interests of the child.  Normally, courts presume that it is in the best interests of the child to have some contact with each of his or her natural parents. Thus, Texas public policy is to encourage continued involvement by both parents, even after separation.  The Texas Family Code, however, does provide some circumstances under which courts can or must deny visitation rights to a parent.

Any credible evidence of past or present neglect, physical abuse, or sexual abuse of a child, the other parent, or spouse by a parent creates a rebuttable presumption that unsupervised visitation by that parent is not in the best interests of the child.  Additionally, Texas courts may not allow a parent who engaged in a pattern of domestic violence during the previous two years to have access to the child, unless it is satisfied that access would not endanger the physical or mental welfare of the child.

Even then, the court may impose conditions for access, which include the following:

  • Requiring supervision by a court-appointed observer
  • Limiting the setting and conditions of access
  • Requiring the parent to abstain from drugs and alcohol for 12 hours prior to visitation
  • Requiring the parent to complete an approved Battering Intervention and Prevention Program (BIPP), or other course of treatment

Parents can, and often should, work together to establish a parenting plan that settles issues such as child custody and visitation.  Parents can utilize tools such as mediation, collaborative law, and other forms of alternative dispute resolution in doing so.  Such a plan, however, is still subject to court approval to determine if is serves the best interests of the child.

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Robert Reid McInvale
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Robert Reid McInvale is an experienced family law attorney with a comprehensive practice in Houston. He provides dedicated and strong advocacy for his clients, helping them with all the issues surrounding their divorce, separation, child custody, and other marriage and family matters. Attorney McInvale—Reid to clients and friends—seemed destined for a law career. Born while his father was attending Emory University Law School, Reid grew up in Manchester, GA. His father was the city attorney for many years, as well as head of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce. It is in the family blood to become lawyers and help people get justice. U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall is part of the McInvale family tree.

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