In every case involving children there will be court orders regarding when the child will be with each parent. Almost all court orders will include a provision that each parent will have possession of the child at all times mutually agreed to. In other words, you and the other parent can do whatever you want as long as you are both in agreement. When you do not have an agreement then you will have to go by the court orders. There is a Standard Possession Order set out in the Family Code that is presumed to be satisfactory for children over 3 years old. For younger children it is a case by case decision. A Standard Possession Order sets out that one parent gets the child on the first, third and fifth weekend of each month (the weekend begins on Friday). It also has provisions for Thursday evenings, alternating certain holidays and extended time during the summer. These provisions change when the parents live over 100 miles apart. There are fewer periods of possession, but they are longer in the amount of time. Your child does not get to decide which parent to live with.
Despite what you might read online, hear from your friends, or see on Youtube, in Texas, your child never gets to make that decision. We don’t allow them to pick their own bedtime or curfew, and the law does not allow them to pick where they live. The Judge can be made to interview the child in the Judge’s chambers (office) without the presence of either parent, to determine the child’s wishes as to custody and visitation, but the court does not have to follow what the child wants. Upon application, the court must interview a child if the child is 12 or older, and the judge may interview a child if younger than 12. If there is a jury trial, then the judge cannot interview the child.
What if my child doesn’t want to go with the other parent?
They don’t get to make that decision. There is a court order in place and it must be followed. If there is a good reason the child should not spend time with the other parent according to the possession order, then you need to hire a lawyer to start the process of modifying the possession order. If you encourage your child to not go with the other parent or if you interfere with the other parent’s right of possession then you could be held in contempt, fined and possibly jailed. Judges do not want to hear how one parent encouraged a child to not visit the other parent, or even told the child, "You don’t have to go." You are required to have the child ready to go and to be at the place and time for the other parent to pick up the child. Some courts have ruled that you have to physically put the child in the car if necessary. You need to talk to a lawyer if your child does not want to see the other parent. It is your obligation to encourage your child to spend time with the other parent. Studies show that a child with a healthy relationship with both parents have better opportunities to become successful children and later to become successful adults. Many times, a healthy adult conversation between the parents can resolve most issues.
Visitation is an independent right and obligation. The visitation order remains in force even if the other parent is not paying child support. If child support is not being paid, then you need to consult with an attorney to file a Motion to Enforce.