While all aspects of a divorce can elicit uncomfortable and distressing feelings, those involving children often present additional challenges. Unlike many other states, the Texas family court system addresses custody and visitation as “conservatorship,” “possession,” and “access.” These orders are documents that state when each parent will spend time with the child and under what circumstances. A party can enforce these documents when a judge includes them in a court order. An attorney can assist a parent in drafting a plan to ensure that it meets the state’s guidelines. Even if parents agree to a parenting plan and agreement, circumstances may be fluid, and issues can arise immediately after the agreement or years down the line. In these cases, parties must abide by the parenting plan until a modification. The failure to do so can have long-term consequences on the defaulting parent.
For instance, recently, Texas appellate court issued an opinion in a case stemming from a trial court’s order holding a father in contempt of a custody order. The relevant facts involve the mother’s petition alleging that the father violated their custody decree by 1. Failing to provide tax documents; 2. Failing to execute necessary property transfer documents; and 3. Interfering with the mother’s possession of the couple’s child.
The mother claimed that she lost possession, one stemming from a flight delay and the other when the father refused to surrender the child at daycare at the end of his possessory period. The second incident arose when the mother told the father to drop the child off at daycare, stating she was “designating them” a competent adult. However, the father refused to enter the daycare, claiming that the woman must retrieve the child from the parking lot. The woman asked the court to hold the father in contempt, jail him for 180 days, in addition to other admonishments.