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Child Visitation by Nonparents

This article addresses whether nonparents get visitation to children who are not theirs.

 

Can someone else pick up and drop off my child during my visitation period?

Under the standard possession order, either parent can designate a competent adult to pick up and return the child during periods of visitation. However, some custody orders have specific restrictions on who can pick up and drop off the child. For example, an order might state that only family members can pick up and drop off the child. You should refer to your order to see if there are any specific restrictions.

If the order states that you can designate a competent adult to pick-up and drop off your child on your behalf, you can designate an adult to do the exchange for you, but that adult has to follow the court order, as well. If the designated adult is denied visitation, it is as if you were denied visitation. It is always a good idea to notify the other parent that you have designated an adult to go on your behalf to avoid any confusion.

 

Do I have to be there with my child during my entire period of visitation?

Ordinarily, no. Judges realize that it is not reasonable to expect parents to be with their children at every possible moment. However, you should refer to your order to see if it has any special restrictions regarding visitation and possession.

 

If I pick someone (like my dad) to pick up the child, and the other parent refuses to let them pick up the child, can my dad enforce the orders or file a petition for writ of habeas corpus?

No. In this case, the nonparent would not have standing to enforce the order. However, if your order states that a competent adult can be designated to pick up the child and the custodial parent denies you visitation whenever a designated adult attempts to pick up the child, then you can file to enforce the court order.

The designated adult cannot file the enforcement because they are not a party in the court order. 

 

What if I don’t like the person who the other parent has designated to pick up the child? Can I refuse visitation in that case?

Ordinarily, no. Parents do not normally have to agree on the designated adult unless there is a special provision in your court order that says otherwise. 

 If you have concerns about the safety and wellbeing of your child with the designated adult, you may have the option to file a modification.

 

If I’m unavailable for visitation, can another family member (for example, the child’s grandparents, aunt, or uncle) exercise visitation on my behalf?

Maybe. You should refer to your order to see if there are any restrictions regarding visitation. Occasionally an order will have a provision that requires the non-custodial parent to tell the custodial parent if they will be unavailable for a long period of time during their period of visitation.

As long as you are acting in accordance with your order, it’s possible for another family member to pick up and return the child during the period of possession.

 

If the noncustodial parent will leave the child with family during their possession time, can I refuse to let them to pick up the child?

No, you cannot refuse visitation because you believe the other parent will be leaving the child with family members. However, if your order specifically restricts who the child can stay with during a period of possession, and you find out that the other parent is violating this provision, you can file to enforce the order.

 

If I don’t like the other parent’s family can I refuse to allow the other parent to take our child around them?

No. However, if your order specifically restricts who the child can be around and you find out the other parent is violating this provision, you can file to enforce the order. If you have concerns about the safety and well-being of your child with the designated adult, you may have the option to file a modification

 

 

What if I’m the grandparent of the child, do I get my own period of visitation with the child?

Ordinarily, no. In Texas, grandparents do not have visitation rights without a court order. The easiest way to visit a grandchild is to establish or maintain positive relations with the child’s parents. Maintaining relationships when there has been conflict may not be easy, but it is possible. Only one parent has to give you permission to visit, as long as you are visiting the child during that parent’s period of possession. 
Under some circumstances, grandparents can obtain a court order granting them the right to visit their grandchildren over the objection of the parents if visitation is in the child’s best interest. The court can authorize grandparent visitation if at least one of the parents has not had their parental rights terminated, visitation is in the child's best interest, and the grandparent is a parent of the child’s parent and that child’s parent:

 

  • has been incarcerated during the three-month period preceding the filing of the petition;

  • has been found by a court to be incompetent;

  • is dead; or

  • does not have actual or court-ordered possession of or access to the child.

To read about the law regarding grandparent visitation, see Texas Family Code 153.432 and 153.433.

 

If the non-custodial parent is in the military and is deployed, can they designate someone to exercise visitation while they are away?

Yes. The noncustodial parent can file for temporary orders and designate someone to exercise visitation while they are away, as long as the visitation is in the best interest of the child. See Texas Family Code 153.705.