Can a Judge Order Supervised Visitation or No Visitation in Houston, Texas?
Even the least complex divorce cases can be challenging and emotional, and when a child is involved, it often means that two former spouses can never achieve a truly clean break. Ideally, they will put aside their differences in the child’s best interest, ensuring that both the custodial parent and non-custodial parent have the opportunity to form bonds with the child and play a valuable role in their lives.
It is not always possible for parents to reach a suitable agreement without intervention from the courts. If there are reasons to believe that a parent or their family members cannot reliably be alone with a child for any reason, a Judge may order supervised visitation. Suppose there are severe issues that a supervisor cannot be reliably expected to prevent, such as a risk of domestic violence. In that case, a Judge has the right to order that the at-risk party has no visitation rights.
So, can a judge order supervised visitation or no visitation in Houston, Texas? Yes, they can. As the right to spend time with a child is determined by a court order and is, therefore, a legal process, it makes sense to consult an attorney specializing in family law before attempting to put such an order into practice.
Speak to an Attorney from Skillern Firm Today
Are you concerned about child custody cases involving supervised visitation or no visitation rights? In that case, it is best to consult a legal professional with vast experience in family law.
At the Skillern Firm law office, we have decades of experience in helping parents understand their circumstances, how Texas law applies and putting in place a visitation order that suits everyone involved.
Our family law specialists are standing by to help ensure your rights are respected and that you have access to the legal expertise to look after your child’s best interest. Call us today at 936-213-8479.
Understanding Supervised Visitation in Texas
As the name suggests, a supervised visitation order requires the noncustodial parent to be accompanied by a third party when visiting their child. This is to ensure the child’s safety during the visit and to ensure they do not endure any kind of physical abuse or emotional harm.
While a friend or family member can serve as the monitor during supervised visitation in Texas, the nature of these relationships means that a Judge is likely to appoint a neutral third party to oversee supervised visits.
Why Supervised Visitation Might Be Required
There must be convincing evidence to put a supervised visitation order in place. A Judge would not look fondly upon anyone that attempted to request supervised visitation as a way to prevent their former spouse from seeing a child or merely to inconvenience them.
Anything that could interfere with a child’s welfare is grounds for seeking court-ordered supervised visitation. Common reasons include the following:
- A history of mental or physical abuse by the other parent
- Use of abusive language
- Drinking alcohol in a way that impairs a parent’s ability to look after their child
- Substance abuse and drug addiction
- Family violence and physical endangerment
- Severe mental illness
- Anything that could cause the child’s emotional stability to be detrimentally affected
In the most extreme cases, where a Judge believes that the supervised parent poses a sufficient risk to the child’s wellbeing to outweigh their right to parental access, they might enforce a no visitation order.
Where Supervised Visitation Takes Place
A Judge may not only appoint a court-ordered monitor for supervised visitation, but may also include specific locations in court orders. This might involve a supervised visit at the home of the non-custodial parent but may take place outside a domestic setting.
For example, a court-ordered visitation schedule might involve a neutral location where the other parent can pay a fee to spend time with their child in the presence of others. In cases involving violence, a court may even order that non-custodial parents only have supervised visitation rights at a police station.
Determining Supervised Visitation in Houston, Texas
To make supervised visitation work, a Judge will consider several factors. As in any child custody arrangement, the child is the top priority. The child’s age may play a role and, where relevant, the child’s preference may influence the location at which restricted visitation takes place.
From there, a Judge will carefully consider the reasons why the visiting parent cannot do so on an unsupervised basis. As outlined above, everything from drug abuse and mental illness to emotional abuse and domestic violence can contribute to the need for supervised visitation in Houston, Texas. A Judge will need to determine how and why these issues may impact a child.
Ending Supervised Visitation
Conditions laid out in a divorce decree do not have to be final. While supervised visitation makes for a complex arrangement, it does mean that the noncustodial parent has no opportunity for unsupervised visits in the future.
The supervised parent can ask to remove the restriction. However, as the initial imposition of a supervised visitation order indicates that there was evidence of emotional harm or other issues, the burden of proof for the removal order falls on the non-custodial parent.
This is not always easy and a child custody attorney can help a parent to put together a case that proves, in the eyes of the law, that a supervised visitation schedule is no longer required.
Typically, the noncustodial parent must prove that they have taken steps to rectify the issue that caused the order’s enforcement. If substance abuse led the other parent to request supervised visitation, proof of treatment, sobriety, and testimony from medical professionals may be sufficient to cause the order’s amendment or cancellation.
The monitor appointed to oversee visitation as an independent third party remains accountable to the court. In some cases, they may suggest, based on their own findings, that the order is longer required.
Similar rules apply to a parent with no visitation schedule to see their child. If they can prove that whatever caused the order in the first place is no longer applicable, they have the right, in conjunction with their attorney, to request an amendment to the order.
The Skillern Firm Team is Standing By to Help
Supervised visitation means restrictions that may prevent a parent and child from seeing as much of each other as they might want to. Nobody enters a marriage thinking that they might one day have to apply to a court to ensure the other parent cannot pose any danger to their child, but circumstances change, and courts have the power to act.
Just as those circumstances can change for the worse, they can also change for the better, and a supervised visitation or no visitation order does not have to be a life sentence for any parent.
Working alongside an attorney from Skillern Firm, a parent can ensure that anything enforced upon them by the courts is fair, appropriate, and in the best interest of the child.
If you are concerned about visitation rights and need support and guidance on what to do next, we’re here to help. Call our offices today for an initial consultation at 936-213-8479.