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Violating visitation limits in Texas can have bad consequences

Child custody is a very sensitive issue, both personally and legally. People are very protective of their children, and there are instances in which decisions are made based solely on emotions. When one Texas parent has full custody of the child, and the other has visitation rights, the law is uncompromising about the rights of the visiting parent. Exceeding those rights can lead to serious criminal charges, as well as a loss of future visitation rights.

One woman was recently arrested and charged with felony kidnapping of her own child. According to reports, the mother has visitation rights and the father has full custody of the child. She took the child for a day visit and did not returned him by 8:30 p.m. that evening, as agreed upon. As a result, the father filed a police report.

The mother's visit was part of her visitation schedule. Apparently, she became concerned during that visit about the father's treatment of the child. She made a report to the local police as well as the Department of Human Services about her concerns. The details of her most recent concerns were not made public, though previously voiced concerns have been investigated by the police and child welfare professionals. The investigators found no legitimate basis for those complaints against the father.

The mother was first charged with violating her visitation rights in the child custody agreement, but that charge was later elevated to kidnapping. These developments may make it more difficult for this mother to spend time with her son in the future. While it is understandable for a parent to want to act on suspicions concerning abuse or mistreatment of their child, it is imperative that one does so within the letter of the law, in Texas and elsewhere. Family courts are tasked with looking after the best interests of the child, and parents who have safety concerns are entitled to a hearing to determine if a change in custody is appropriate. In this case, a better approach would have been for this mother to sit down and determine her rights under the law, and to address her concerns in either criminal or family court, as deemed appropriate by the authorities.

Source: mcalesternews.com, "Mother turns herself in to U.S. Marshalls," James Beaty, Feb. 15, 2013

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