November 30, 2008,
A.S. asks from San Antonio, TX on November 29, 2008
What Is the Law on Child Visitation Outside of 100 Miles
I am looking for a good family law attorney in San Antonio.
My husbands ex-wife moved the kids to Dallas earlier this year for her new husbands job. My husband has only seen his kids for 3 weeks since July and we just got them for Thanksgiving. We thought we were going to get the kids until Sunday after Thanksgiving but she said she was leaving on Saturday and that from this point forward when she comes in town for the holidays to see her family she will always leave on Saturdays. We asked to keep the kids until Sunday and asked if they would meet us half way to drop the kids back off and she refused. She said she is not going meet us half way and that if we want to keep the kids that we will have to either fly both of them back to Dallas or drive them back up ourselves.
I was curious if anyone else is in this situation or knows someone who is? My husband is an awesome father who loves his kids more than anything. We are willing to do what is fair but the only way he is ever going to see his kids every month is if we drive all the way to Dallas to pick up the girls or flies them to and from every month. It seems unfair to me to have all of our holidays cut short or have to drive every month to Dallas. Does anyone know what the law is on visitations if you have children outside of 100 miles.
Thanks in advance!
C.C. answers from San Antonio on November 30, 2008
You need to call the attorney and quickly. The law is only what your decree stipulates. There may already be a provision for if one of you moves away from the other so get it out and read it.
If there is no provision, then you go to Dallas every weekend it is his to get those kids until the judge changes it. You want the judge to see you are doing all the work. When you go to get it changed, have something in there that she must meet you half way and how long the weekend is (Sat or Sun). Be VERY specific - something you can live with. I have a friends decree who is like that.
We live a long way from my husbands childrend and their decree was not very specific. It said "every other weekend" which was VERY hard to impose, because it was her word against ours as to what would be our weekend. She was never accomodating and we didn't get the kids out here to stay with us until they were quite a bit older because we were not in a position to fight for custody or travel to get them. Fortunately things have changed and we have a relationship with them and see them reqularly - but it has been a long time coming thanks to a mom who was completely irrational.
Good luck. I know you can get something else worked out.
C.S. answers from San Antonio on November 30, 2008
I know nothing about the laws but I know an awesome family law attorney. Her name is Brooke Irey and she works for the Spahn Law Firm. Her number is ###-###-####. When you call, tell her Cori Smelker referred you. She does a lot of contracts for me and knows her way around the law very well.
J.H. answers from San Antonio on November 30, 2008
I'm not sure about Texas law, but the divorce decree, specifically the part about visitation dictates how the visitation schedule should work. Does it say who is supposed to pay for the cost of the visits? It sounds like your husband's ex-wife is paying for all the transportation. So if she's paying all the costs and she wants to take them home on Saturday you really don't have much say. Maybe this is so she can take the girls to church or give them a day to get ready before they start school again on Monday. I know it seems unfair to you, but she may be doing what she feels is best for her family, which includes members of your family. That being said, if she is only allowing the girls to come down for holidays and you want more you'll have to work something out. It is her responsibility, if she has primary custody, to make sure they have a relationship with their father. If she is unwilling to make the small sacrifice of meeting half-way then it may be that you need to go to court. However, I recommend that you try working it out through a mediator first. If you think your husband and she can sit down and come to a reasonable and specific visitation schedule together then it would save both of them the cost of hiring a lawyer and going to court, which can be VERY expensive. A mediator usually charges about $150-200 per hour and both parties split the cost. The agreement is then signed by a judge and becomes official. If she doesn't abide by it she can be taken to court. With there being 100 miles of distance between the two houses it may be feasible to do visits for long weekends during the school year, Spring Break, half of summer and holidays that alternate between Christmas and Thanksgiving (e.g. 2008 you get Thanksgiving, 2009 you get Christmas). Remember your main concern should be what's best for the children. Traveling 8 hours in a regular weekend can be really hard on them. You and your husband can keep up with them through regular phone calls and emails in between visits. Good luck and God bless!
S.S. answers from San Antonio on November 30, 2008
I recommend that you contact an attorney right away. The original divorce decree and the terms given to each parent and their rights of visitation will be very important. The actual law can be viewed at this link: http://tlo2.tlc.state.tx.us/statutes/docs/FA/content/htm/...
Since both of your step daughters are over the age of three I apologize for length and included the within 100 miles so you can see the difference and how your visitations compares. I believe this is the current standard and a little easier to read than the actual legal jargon:
What is the standard possession order?
The Texas Family Code provides a visitation schedule that years of experience have shown works for most families. The standard possession order for parents who live within 100 miles of each other basically divides holidays evenly between both parents and gives the parent with visitation at least two weekends a month, two hours every Thursday during the school year, and 30 days during the summer.
School holidays can extend a parent’s visitation. Under the standard possession order, if a parent has visitation on a weekend and the following Monday is a school holiday, then the period of visitation ends at 6:00 p.m. on Monday instead of Sunday. Likewise, if school is out on Friday, the weekend visitation starts at 6:00 p.m. Thursday instead of Friday.
What does the Standard Possession Order include?
The standard child custody order for parents who live less than 100 miles apart presumes that a child age 3 or older will live most of the time with one parent and the other parent will have visitation on the following schedule:
* Weekends starting at 6:00 p.m. on the first, third and fifth Friday of each month and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the following Sunday (an option is to start when school is dismissed on Fridays)
* Thursdays during the school year starting at 6:00 p.m. and ending at 8:00 p.m. (option: beginning when school lets out and/or ending when school resumes, usually on the next Thursday morning).
* From 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on the child’s birthday.Fathers have possession for Father’s Day from 6:00 p.m. on the Friday before Father’s Day until 6:00 p.m. on Father’s Day.Mothers have the same period for Mother’s Day.
* In even-numbered years:Dad has the child during Spring Break, Mom has the child for Thanksgiving, Dad has the child for Christmas from the time school lets out until noon on December 28, and Mom has possession from December 28 until 6 p.m. on the day before school resumes. The use of “Mom” and “Dad” is for an example only—it could be reversed depending on who has primary custody. In odd-numbered years, the holiday schedule is reversed.
* The parent with visitation has the child for 30 days during the summer. If that parent gives notice before A. 1, he/she can designate the 30 days during the summer when he/she has possession in up to two separate periods of at least seven days. If no notice is given, he/she has possession from July 1 until July 31.
What visitation schedule is followed if the parents live more than 100 miles apart?
Visitation for Thanksgiving, Christmas, the child’s birthday, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day remain the same when parents live over 100 miles apart. The parent with visitation gets 42 days with the child during the summer and can follow the first, third, and fifth weekend schedule or choose to select one weekend a month with 14 days advance notice.
Ok, that was info from this website: http://www.enoslaw.com/PracticeAreas/Child-Custody-Texas.asp
I will also point out that at age 12, the children are legally able to choose which parent they prefer to live with and judges tend to side with the child unless there is good reason not to. I am not sure if you intend to pursue primary custody but thought I'd throw that out there. As far as who is responsible for the kids' travel between you, I will refer you to the first link to the actual legal code as I do not know how your custody was set up. I am not a lawyer, just a sometimes frustrated step-mom so please do not take this as legal advise; you should really consult an attorney also but it will get you going and maybe you can avoid racking up fees if you are lucky enough to be on civil and reasonable speaking terms with the ex.
Good luck, A.!