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Understanding the Standard Possession Order

On Behalf of | Nov 11, 2021 | Child Custody |

In Texas, divorce can be a complicated and emotionally charged situation. With the various issues that must be navigated, it is natural for the spouses to feel overwhelmed. Even in cases where the parties are relatively amicable, there will be difficult moments. For contentious cases, this can lead to a litany of challenges that must be addressed. While all areas of family law have the potential for acrimony, disputes regarding children can be the hardest. Being fully prepared is imperative and this is especially true with visitation rights.

Texas terminology

In Texas, the terms are somewhat different than what people might normally expect in family law. Custody is referred to as “conservatorship” and visitation is called “periods of possession.” When a non-custodial parent has a period of possession, the law will automatically use the Standard Possession Order as a template. A key to the order is how far apart the parents live from one another. The courts use 100 miles as a baseline.

If the parents live within 100 miles of each other, the noncustodial parent will have the child on the first, third and fifth weekends per month. During the week, they will have the child every Thursday evening. Since holidays are a common point of contention, these are handled by alternating possession. For those who celebrate Christmas, the child will be with one parent one year and the other parent the next year. During summer vacation, the child will spend 30 days with the noncustodial parent.

When the parents live more than 100 miles apart, the weekend schedule can be lowered to once a month. There is no midweek visitation. The holidays will remain the same. The time the child will spend with the parent during summer vacation and school breaks will be extended to 42 days. Still, the court has the right to modify the order as it sees fit to suit the child’s best interests. If, for example, it is a very young child or there are issues that make the Standard Possession Order untenable, it can be altered accordingly.

Having assistance can be helpful with any family law concern

For many parents, the Standard Possession Order is sufficient for them and they can adhere to the agreement without rancor. Of course, most parents will want as much time with the child as possible, but they also think about consistency and the child’s best interests. In Texas family law, it is important for the parents to understand their rights and to have guidance as to how they can reach a desired outcome.