Out of State Visitation Statutes in Texas

By Marcy Brinkley

The Texas statutes related to marriage, divorce, child-parent relationships and juvenile justice are contained within the Texas Family Code. Except in unusual circumstances such as domestic violence, the policy in Texas is to ensure both parents have access to and possession of the children while taking into consideration such factors as distance between the parents' homes, ages of the children and potential for disruption of their schedules.

Standard Possession Order

Divorcing parents in Texas have the option to reach their own agreement on visitation or ask a judge to make the decision based on evidence from both parties. The standard possession order set out in the Texas Family Code is presumed to be in the best interests of the child in most cases, even if one parent lives in another state. The primary distinction in the standard order is whether the parents live within 100 miles of each other or not. For example, if the mother and children live in Waskum, Texas, near the Louisiana border and the father lives in Shreveport, Louisiana, they will follow the guidelines for possession within 100 miles. If, on the other hand, the father lives in Austin, Texas, and his children live in Waskum, the appropriate guidelines to follow are those for parents who live more than 100 miles away even though both households are in Texas.

Managing Conservator Moves

When parents divorce in Texas, the one with whom the children live must notify the other at least 60 days before moving out of state. If, for example, the mother remarries and wants to move to California with her new husband, the father can ask the court in Texas to prevent her from taking the children with her. The court will consider evidence about the purpose of the move, effect on the father's relationship with the children and impact on visitation. If the judge approves the move, she may order the mother to pay the costs of airline travel or alter the visitation schedule. Alternatively, the parents are permitted to reach an agreement on these issues without a hearing.

Possessory Conservator Moves

When a non-custodial parent moves out of Texas after the divorce, the parents can reach an agreement about changes in the visitation schedule, if needed. If they used the standard possession order, though, they can simply use the provisions for visitation outside the 100-mile radius if they apply. If the non-custodial parent requests unusual accommodations, however, they may request a hearing and ask the judge to modify the divorce decree accordingly.

Military Deployment

The Texas Family Code standard possession order addresses situations involving parents in the military deploying overseas or out-of-state. If the military parent is unable to visit due to deployment, she may appoint an alternate person, such as a grandparent, to visit with the children according to the standard schedule. In addition, she may request extra time with the children upon return from deployment to make up for missed visitation periods.

Uniform Child Custody and Jurisdiction Act

If the parents divorced in another state and the custodial parent later moves to Texas with the children, the out-of-state parent can request that Texas enforce the existing visitation order under the Uniform Child Custody and Jurisdiction Act. Alternatively, a parent remaining behind in Texas can request assistance from the Texas courts if the custodial parent refuses to allow visitation after moving to another state.