2019 Standard Possession Order & Parenting Time
Most custody orders include a standard possession order (SPO) that sets the schedule for each parent’s time with the child. Custody orders refer to parenting time as access and possession, which is the same as visitation. Terms of the basic SPO allow the noncustodial parent to have possession of the child a couple of hours every Thursday night; on the first, third and fifth weekends of each month; on alternating holidays, and at least one month in the summer. The SPO tells the parents where the exchanges of the child will take place, where the child will spend the holidays, and has special rules for parents who live more than 100 miles apart. The court does not have to follow the SPO if a child is under three years old or if the SPO is not in the best interest of the child. NOTE: Parents with an SPO can agree to any schedule that works for both of them. If they can’t agree, then they must follow the SPO.
The Texas Family Code presumes the SPO is the minimum amount of parenting time (possession) unless evidence is presented to the court showing why it is not in the child’s best interest, such as:
• little or no prior contact with the child
• family violence concerns
• the child is under 3 and the noncustodial parent did not have frequent, ongoing contact with the child prior to establishing the court orders
As long as you and the other parent agree, you can customize a schedule or an informal parenting plan. The informal parenting plan is not enforceable in court; it will give a road map for you and the other parent, so everyone knows what to expect.
The court order is the required schedule when you and the other parent don’t agree. The courts encourage parents to cooperate and be flexible. If both you and the other parent agree, you can set up any parenting plan/visitation schedule that you want.
About the Author
Michael Busby Jr. is a divorce and family law attorney who practices in Harris County Texas and the counties that surround Harris County. He has been in practice for over 10 years and has tried over 100 cases. He is familiar with the policy and procedures of the Houston Texas Divorce Courts. Our office is open until 8:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for working folks. Please call with your family law or divorce questions for divorce Houston Texas.
Michael Busby Jr.
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Houston, Texas 77036