Visitation and Contempt- Do your part.

Visitation and Custody Attorney in Houston, Texas.  Contempt Cases

People often contact my office when a parent has failed to allow them to exercise their court-ordered visitation.  Failing to allow a parent to exercise court-ordered visitation can result in a contempt or enforcement action being filed against the non-compliant party.  If a court finds that a party willfully violated a court order, that party can be held in contempt, fined, and ultimately sent to jail.  Although it seems simple enough (violating a court order and being punished), the complaining parent often has not done their part in following the order.  Contempt actions are criminal, and the alleged violations must be precise to be successful.

Holding a Parent in Contempt of Court in Texas

For a parent to be held in contempt for denying access to a child, the complaining parent must follow the order and make an attempt to retrieve the child. For example, if the order says a parent is entitled to visitation on the 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekend of the month at 6:00 p.m. (a Standard Possession Order), that parent must attempt to pick up the child at that time and on those dates.  If the order says the parent shall pick up the child at a specific address, that parent must appear there. Often, a parent will receive a text or other communication letting them know the child will not be available. That parent then fails to follow the order and attempts to pick up the child; the thought is, “Why show up if I know the child is not going to be there”?

Date, Time, and Place

The answer is, “Show up so you can document the violation and address it in court if necessary.”  A contempt action must show that the complaining party attempted to exercise visitation at the date, time, and place specified in the order.  If any of those components are missing, the enforcement action will fail.  The exercising parent has a right to exercise visitation, and the other parent must release the child in accordance with the order.  The other parent cannot violate an order by failing to release a child if the exercising parent does not show up to take possession of the child.

It is always better to attempt to resolve these issues before filing a contempt action; however, if all else fails, hire an attorney to represent you properly in an enforcement action.

Schedule a Free Consultation with an Experienced Texas Family Law attorney.

This above is a quick look at visitation and contempt in Texas and is not meant as legal advice.  This area of family law is very complex.  If you have a question regarding the topic above, contact your Houston divorce lawyer, Shawn M. Rudisel, for a free consultation today at 713-781-7775.