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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.

 

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.

 

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 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.

 

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. However, a grandparent can petition the court to request visitation with a grandchild. 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.