During the divorce process it is often necessary to determine who gets the kids and when. Many parents seek divorce without knowing what that arrangement will likely look like by the time the divorce is finalized. Fortunately, in Texas there is a general roadmap regarding “possession” (more commonly known as “visitation”), known as the Standard Possession Order. Although you can customize the terms of visitation, the Standard Possession Order is often used as the visitation schedule in a large number of divorce cases. The actual Standard Possession Order is lengthy and may be confusing to many, but can be viewed here, under Subchapter F.
The Standard Possession Order is broken up in two parts: ‘
- visitation terms for parents who live more than 100 miles apart; and
- visitation terms for parents who live 100 miles apart or less. This article addresses the latter scenario.
Weekend visitation for the possessory conservator (or the parent without physical custody) is the first, third, and fifth weekend every month. This does not technically mean every other weekend. There are some months that have five weekends, meaning that parent may have possession two weekends in a row.
The Standard Possession Order allows the possessory conservator to have visitation for a few hours every Thursday evening in the school year.
There are two options for the summer visitation schedule under the Standard Possession Order. The first option is that the possessory conservator has the kids for thirty days in the summer. However, these 30 days must be used in no more than two separate periods of at least seven consecutive days. The second option is for the possessory conservator to have the kids for the month of July.
On even-numbered years, the possessory conservator will have the kids starting the evening in which the kids are released from school for Christmas break, until noon on December 28th. At that point, the managing conservator (or the parent with physical custody) will then receive the kids back at noon on December 28th.
On odd-numbered years, the managing conservator will have the kids from the time they are released from school on break, until noon on December 28th. At that point, the possessory conservator will have the kids from noon on December 28th, until the evening before school resumes.
On Thanksgiving break, the possessory conservator will get the kids starting on the evening of the release date from school, until the evening of the following Sunday, on odd-numbered years. On even-numbered years, the managing conservator will have the kids for Thanksgiving break, in the same manner described above.
For each child’s birthday, the parent who does not have visitation on that date is entitled to see that child from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m.
If the father is not already scheduled to receive visitation with the kids on Father’s Day weekend, he will have the kids starting on that Friday night, and ending on the evening of Father’s Day.
If the mother is not already scheduled to receive visitation with the kids on Mother’s Day weekend, she will have the kids starting on that Friday night, and ending on the evening of Mother’s Day.
The terms of the Standard Possession Order are not mandatorily incorporated into the Final Divorce Decree. You and your ex-spouse may come up with your own visitation schedule, with different terms than the Standard Possession Order. Additionally, even if your divorce decree incorporates the Standard Possession Order, you and your ex-spouse may tweak things as time goes along, in order to make both of your schedules work. However, remember that communication is key when agreeing to any informal changes.
Please note, this article is only a brief overview of the Standard Possession Order. It does not explore every detail, but was written to give readers a better understanding of what standard visitation looks like in Texas.
If you are going through a divorce, or are considering a divorce and have concerns or questions about creating a visitation schedule, or are interested in finding out more about the Standard Possession Order, be sure to schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys today.