For parents facing a child custody issue in Texas, it is important to understand the potential consequences of not complying with the terms of a court order. Even if you believe the other parent is unfit to spend time with your child, you need to be aware of the legal ramifications of trying to take matters into your own hands.
While you may think that you are acting in your child’s best interests by keeping them away from the other parent, this can result in adverse consequences. From a legal perspective, I’d like to share why keeping a child away from the other parent can backfire.
The Basics of Child Custody in Texas
In Texas, a court will typically award joint physical and legal custody to both parents unless there is a compelling reason to do otherwise. This means that in most cases, both parents have a right to parenting time and a say in major decisions about the child’s life.
However, even if a court awards joint custody, one parent may be designated as the primary custodial parent. This means the child will primarily live with that parent and may visit the other parent (the non-custodial parent) according to a court-ordered schedule. In some cases, both parents may have equal parenting time, with both holding primary custodial rights.
Both arrangements involve the creation of parent plans, which are legal documents that detail the visitation schedule, decision-making rights, and other aspects of child custody.
The terms are outlined in court and approved by a judge to ensure everyone understands their roles, responsibilities, and boundaries. Deviating from the terms of the child custody order – even if you believe you have justification – could result in serious legal issues.
What If You Violate a Child Custody Order in Texas?
If either parent fails to abide by the terms of the custody agreement, they are violating a court order. Violating a child custody order can include anything from alienating a parent to deliberately keeping the child away from the other parent.
If a parent is found to be in violation of a child custody order, they may be held in contempt of court. This means that they can be fined, jailed, or both.
In some cases, a violation of a child custody order may be considered parental kidnapping. Examples of parental kidnapping include taking the child out of state without the other parent’s consent or refusing to return the child after a visit. Parental kidnapping is a felony offense in Texas and can result in up to two years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
Other Consequences of Keeping a Child Away From The Other Parent
When one parent denies visitation to the other parent, it can have a negative impact on the child. The child may feel caught in the middle of the conflict between the parents and believe they are to blame for the rift in the parent-child relationship. Additionally, the child may suffer from anxiety or depression due to the situation.
Then, there are legal consequences. The parent who is being denied visitation may file a motion with the court to modify the custody arrangement, and this could result in you losing custody rights altogether.
In addition, the court may order make-up visitation for the parent who was denied their scheduled time with the child. The court may also modify the custody arrangement to include stronger punishments for future order violations.
It’s certainly difficult to face this situation when you feel like keeping your child away from the other parent is in the child’s best interest. Maybe the other parent is abusive, neglectful, or struggling with addiction. If this is the case for you, the best course of action is to work with a family law attorney to modify the original child custody order rather than withholding the child.
This step will require you to return to court and present evidence of the other parent’s misconduct. If the court finds that the other parent is unfit, they may award you sole custody of the child.
Additionally, the court may order supervised visitation or prohibit the other parent from having any contact with the child. I can help you navigate these legal issues to arrive at the best possible outcome for you and your child.
What Can You Do If Your Child Is Being Kept From You?
Let’s take a look at this child custody issue from a different angle. If you are the one who is being denied visitation, you should be aware that you have rights, and it is important to take action to protect them.
You can file a motion with the court to enforce the terms of the custody agreement. This will likely result in a hearing, at which both sides will have an opportunity to present their case.
If the court finds that the other parent is in violation of the custody agreement, they may order make-up visitation, modify the custody arrangement, or take other punitive measures. Additionally, the court may order the other parent to pay your attorney’s fees and court costs.
Find Legal Support for a Child Custody Dispute in Texas
No matter your position in a child custody dispute, it is vital to understand your rights and the options available to you. While the court allows parents to represent themselves, the process can be complicated and emotionally charged. It is in your best interest to seek the assistance of an experienced family law attorney who can offer legal advice and guide you through the process.
Whether you need help enforcing a custody order or modifying a custody agreement, I have the experience and resources to help you achieve a favorable outcome.
I currently help parents in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, and Harris County with child custody disputes. If you live in one of these counties, call my offices at 979-267-7660 or 281-944-5485 to get started on your case.
Let’s talk more about why keeping a child away from the other parent can backfire and how to remedy the situation. I’m here to help you during this difficult time.