COVID-19 Visitation & Custody Changes

During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Houston, a parent might be wondering if he/she has the right to dismiss visitation rights of the other parent. Unfortunately, the Texas Judicial Branch has given out an emergency order stating

Possession of and access to a child shall not be affected by any shelter-in-place order or other order restricting movement issued by a governmental entity that arises from the pandemic.

Change in Custody and Visitation Rights

While COVID-19 itself is not a means to change visitation rights, other means like child preference (at 12 years or older), material and substantial change, and a child’s wellbeing can be used to better control visitation rights between parents. A family lawyer can help* change the child custody and visitation rights, but here are some ways the parent can help his/her case.

*Please note just because evidence is presented to the court does not mean visitation and custody will be changed.

Child Preference

Once a child turns 12 in Texas, he/she has the option to go to court and be interviewed in the judge’s private office. The child can express interest in deciding to live with the other parent instead. This often does not end up changing visitation or custody rights, but the judge can change this based on the child’s best interest.

Material and Substantial Change

Events such as remarriage, a parent moving, medical conditions like a disability, and criminal activity of a parent can be a cause for custody and visitation changes. For example, if a parent were to move out of state, it would be substantially harder to have the child going back and forth between the parents’ houses.

Keep Track of Everything

For the court to want to change child custody and visitation, solid evidence must be presented. Keeping records of times, places, and even pictures of events can help the court better understand the case at hand. Here are some good reasons to change custody and visitation rights:

  • Evidence of being around other people with COVID-19

  • Testing positive for COVID-19

  • Alcoholism

  • Domestic violence

  • Ignoring the agreed-upon visitation schedule

  • Not supporting the child’s educational advancement

Child Wellbeing

All of these have to do with endangering a child’s physical and/or emotional health and development. Think about the wellbeing of the child before proceeding with a change in custody and visitation. Will this help the child in the long run? Will they benefit from these changes? If so, how?

The overall goal is to protect the child’s wellbeing. Anything another parent is doing to harm that can result in custody and visitation changes. To get other advice and information on custody and visitation changes, talk to a Family Lawyer today.

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