If you’re sharing the parenting duties for your child with their other parent after a divorce or separation, you may be curious about your ability to text your child when they’re with your ex. In Texas, the answers to your question will depend on your rights as outlined in court-ordered “conservatorship” or “possession and access” arrangements. Texas courts use the term “conservatorship” in place of “custody” and the term “possession and access” in place of visitation.
The bottom line is, either the custodial or the noncustodial parent can ask the court to grant them specific time periods for electronic communication with the child. However, if these rights are not formally described in a court order, you may want to think twice before you text.
When Are Parents Entitled to Electronic Communication?
Under § 153.015 of the Texas Family Code, electronic communication is defined as a type of access to a child. Electronic communication can include communication with a child through phone conversations, emails, instant messages, texts, and video chats.
A conservator of a child in Texas has the right to ask the court to order the other parent to provide the conservator with reasonable periods of electronic communication with the child. Court-ordered electronic communication periods are intended to supplement, not replace, in-person possession and access of the child.
When Texas family courts decide whether to award electronic communication rights, they typically consider:
- Whether electronic communication with the requesting parent would be in the best interests of the child
- What “reasonable” electronic communication would look like, including what is reasonable for the child’s maturity, schedule, and needs
- Whether all parties involved have reasonable access to the equipment needed to facilitate the electronic communication
- Any other factors the court decides are relevant
How Do I Know If I Can Text My Child When They Are With My Ex?
To determine whether you have the right to text your child when they are with your ex, your first step should be to review your court-ordered conservatorship and possession and access documents. If you are uncertain about what the documents say, your attorney can read through them with you and explain how they affect your rights.
Every court order is different. If your court order does not say anything about when or how you can communicate with your child, your ex is under no obligation to allow it. If the order says you can talk to your child when they are not physically with you, it’s safe to assume you can text away. However, make sure you abide by the terms of the court order when you do.
If you do text your child while they’re with the other parent, be careful of what you say. Although parents should generally respect their children’s privacy when it comes to communication with other parents, keep in mind that your ex could read anything you send to your child’s phone and use it against you.
Is My Ex Required to Share My Child’s Contact Information?
If a Texas family court orders electronic communication rights, any conservator subject to the order is required to:
- Provide the other conservator with the child’s relevant electronic contact information, such as phone numbers, screen names, or email addresses
- Notify the other conservator within 24 hours if the child’s electronic contact information changes in any way
- Facilitate reasonable electronic communication between the child and the other parent, assuming the necessary equipment is available,
- Accommodate the electronic communication with “the same privacy, respect, and dignity” granted in all other forms of access
- Facilitate the electronic communication at reasonable hours and for reasonable durations, within the scope of any limitations outlined in the court order
Any parent who violates a court order by refusing to allow electronic communication or withholding a child’s contact information may suffer legal consequences. One potential consequence of violating a court order is being held in contempt of court. A conviction on charges of contempt could result in arrest and possible jail time.
Contact a Texas Family Law Attorney Today
If you want to ensure your court order allows you to text your child any time they are with your ex, you have the right to file a modification lawsuit with the help of a knowledgeable lawyer. At BB Law Group PLLC, our Texas child custody and visitation attorneys can help you review the details of your conservatorship or possession and access order and propose modifications that work for you.
To learn more about your legal options as a parent, call us today at (832) 534-2589 or contact us online to get started with your initial consultation.