How the Courts are Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship: Recent Opinions on Possession and Access to Child

You’re in the midst of a divorce or suit affecting the parent-child relationship and you’re discussing the rights and duties that each parent will have with respect to the child or children. In particular, you are discussing additional ways to have “visitation” with your child outside of the standard possession periods that you will have. For instance, what about “electronic” communication when the child is in the other parent’s care? So, you contact your attorney at Guest & Gray, P.C. to inquire about this additional right to your child.

In some instances when one parent won’t see the child as often or if the parents reside more than 100 miles apart, courts can include electronic communication provisions when it is appropriate. This means that you can email or, with the advancements of technology, Skype with your children now when they are with the primary parent.

However, the 14th District Houston Court of Appeals recently held that orders that allow you to do so must be specific in order to be enforceable. In fact, that Court held that if there is an electronic communication provision within the final orders, it must comply with Texas Family Code §153.015(c) which lists out 3 requirements for the named conservators.

While all three requirements must be listed in the final orders, in particular, this court focused on the second requirement which states that “each conservator subject to the court’s order shall notify the other conservator with the e-mail address and other electronic communication access information of the child.” That, the Court held, is a mandatory provision which must be included in any trial court’s final orders when it comes to electronic communication.

Therefore, if you’ve been granted this special access to the child, it’s the conservators’ responsibilities to notify each other when the child’s information changes–per statute and Court orders, you must do so.

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