Family courts in Texas operate from the assumption that a child is best served by having a relationship with both parents. That means judges are usually hesitant to issue any orders that bar a non-custodial parent from communicating with his or her child. And, custodial parents are not supposed to prevent such communication on their own.
If, however, there are extenuating circumstances, such as abuse on the part of the non-custodial parent, then a court may order an end to communication. On the other hand, if such circumstances are lacking and the custodial parent interferes with communication anyway, the non-custodial parent can seek legal remedies.
The Right to Request Schedules for Electronic Communication
Each parent, custodial and non-custodial, has the right to petition the court for specific schedules regarding electronic communication with the child. Electronic communication includes emails, Facetime, texting, social media, instant messaging and telephones. For parents who travel for work or otherwise, these digital communications are very important. Having the court set a schedule for these communications can make life a lot easier for everyone.
The applicable law is Texas Family Code section 153.015, entitled “Electronic Communication with Child By Conservator.” This is sometimes called the “virtual parenting” statute. Using this law, your attorney may be able to help you get a court order specifying what types of electronic communication can be used, during what times of the day or night, and other important details.
Dealing With Interference
In most cases, the non-custodial parent has the right to communicate with the child free of interference from the custodial parent. Sometimes, however, a custodial parent will attempt to limit or even end such communication. One example would be a custodial parent refusing to let the child answer calls from the non-custodial parent.
If the non-custodial parent has visitation rights, which they often do, and the custodial parent refuses to abide by the visitation schedule, the custodial parent could be held in contempt of court.
The best way to deal with interference, whether you are a non-custodial parent whose rights are being infringed or a custodial parent accused of interfering, is to get immediate advice from an experienced Texas lawyer. The possible consequences of interference can be very harsh, and may even include jail time, so you need to be guided by an attorney who can offer practical advice and protect your rights.
Legal Help Is Available
Based in Fort Worth, the Law Office of V. Wayne Ward represents parents throughout the DFW area and across Texas. If you have questions about non-custodial parental rights, please don’t hesitate to ask. Contact the firm anytime to arrange a confidential attorney consultation.