Learn about makeup visitation, when it's necessary, how to ask for it, what to do if the other parent or conservator does not work with you on scheduling, and more.
What is makeup visitation?
Makeup visitation is when parents (or conservators) agree to make up or reschedule a visit or visits that were missed during scheduled visitation.
Or, the court can order makeup visitation ("additional periods of possession or access") as a sort of compensation if one parent sues another to enforce their visitation.
How do you ask for makeup visitation?
First, you need to give the other parent notice if you cannot exercise your visitation.
Most possession schedules, including the standard possession order, include a notice requirement when it comes to parents’ visitation. This notice requirement says that a parent must give the other parent at least 24 hours prior written notice if a parent is not going to be able to exercise their visitation with their children. Depending on what your order says, written notice can be done through email, text message, fax, or through a co-parenting application such as Our Family Wizard or AppClose.
When a parent gives their written notice that they cannot do their visit, the parent should also ask for makeup visitation. Both parents must agree to the makeup visitation. If the other parent agrees to the makeup visitation, then make sure your agreement includes specific terms for the makeup visitation. These terms should include the days and times when the visitation begins and ends, which parent will be responsible for picking up and dropping off your child, and any other important details of the makeup visitation.
How do you know when your visitation is?
First, read your order carefully to determine what kind of possession schedule you have. Not all court orders are the same. While many court orders contain a Standard Possession Order—others do not. This is true if the parents decided on a customized schedule for possession and access. The Standard Possession Order (SPO) can be found in Texas Family Code chapter 153(F).
Texas law says that the SPO is the minimum amount of time a parent managing conservator can have with their child. This means that parents can always agree for a parent to have more time with their children, on top of the schedule included in the SPO. This is because Texas’ public policy encourages frequent contact between a child and each parent for the development of a close and continuing relationship. See Texas Family Code 153.251.
If your order has a SPO, then you and the other parent can agree to a different possession schedule from the schedule in your order. See Texas Family Code 153.311. This different schedule can include makeup visitation time.
In what situations could you need makeup visitation?
Makeup visitation could happen for several reasons.
A parent (or someone in their household) could be sick, a parent could be out of town, or be called in to work at the last minute. There could be a funeral, natural disaster, or other events that prevent visitation from happening. While it is not required for a parent to give the other parent a reason why they cannot have their visit with their child, giving the reason may help the other parent understand why the parent is missing a visit and asking for makeup time.
Parents should and are encouraged to be flexible, within reason, when it comes to a parent missing and asking to reschedule their visitation. This is important to keeping a good co-parenting relationship. But if a parent constantly misses their visits and asks to reschedule, then it could become hard on the other parent. Still, schedule activities for your family and allow your child to participate in their own sports or extracurricular activities. If rescheduling the visit is possible, then parents should allow for it. Communication between parents is very important for makeup visitation to happen.
What if I do not want to hold the other parent in contempt of court?
When you ask a judge to hold someone in contempt of court for not following a court order, you are asking the judge to punish them. This is called “constructive contempt.” Punishment for constructive contempt falls into two categories:
- Criminal Contempt (or punitive contempt): This type of contempt punishes a person for disrespecting the dignity and authority of the court. Because of something they did, or failed to do—like deliberately ignoring the court’s order—they face criminal consequences, like jail.
- Civil Contempt (or coercive contempt): The court uses this type of punishment to persuade the contemnor, or the parent not following the order, to obey the previous order. This is often a money judgment or, if it is visitation enforcement, makeup visitation time.
If you have to file an enforcement lawsuit against the other parent for refusing you visitation or denying your visit under an agreed makeup visitation schedule, you do not have to ask for criminal contempt, or jail time. The choice is yours if you want to request criminal contempt.
You do want to request civil contempt because that is the remedy the judge can use to allow you your makeup visitation time. Make sure your requests are specific in your legal documents and, if needed, talk to an attorney about preparing these legal documents.
The court can order additional periods of possession or access as part of a visitation enforcement suit.
What if the other parent changes their mind and does not let me have my makeup visitation?
If parents agree to a makeup visitation schedule, it is up to the parents to follow through on their agreement, as courts often will not enforce a schedule different than the one contained in the parents’ order.
If your case is still ongoing or if you want to officially change your visitation schedule, parents can file a document with the court, signed by both parents, that contains your agreement for the makeup visitation or new visitation schedule. This written document is called a Rule 11 Agreement.
If the other parent changes their mind and does not let you have your makeup visitation, then you must follow the possession schedule contained in your order. This is why it is important to have your makeup visitation request and schedule in writing.
If your makeup visitation schedule is in writing and the other parent stops or refuses to allow your agreed makeup visitation, you can file an enforcement lawsuit. The enforcement requests the court to order the other parent to allow you your makeup visitation. Review and use the guide I want to file a Motion to Enforce Visitation to find forms for an enforcement lawsuit for possession and access.
If your makeup visitation schedule was written and filed in a Rule 11 Agreement with the court, then your Rule 11 agreement is considered an enforceable contract relating to your lawsuit. If a party to a valid Rule 11 agreement breaches the agreement, they can be sued. A lawyer can help file the suit and can tell you what remedies are available.
My current possession schedule is not working. What can I do?
You may realize the possession schedule in your current order does not work. One parent may keep missing their visits and the other parent cannot continue agreeing to makeup visitation. If either parent finds themselves in this position, then at any time a parent wishes to officially change their possession schedule with the court, they need to file a modification lawsuit.
Child Custody & Visitation
Child Custody & Visitation
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