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
NOT SURE IF YOU HAVE A CHILD SUPPORT ORDER?
Have you appeared with the other parent at the Attorney General’s Office to negotiate an order or at court? Are you required to pay child support? A support order may be called a Decree of Divorce, a Paternity Decree, or an Order in Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship. Regardless of its name, the order will always include the parent’s names, the name of the child, and the rights and responsibilities of each parent.
CAN I HAVE ANY OTHER AGREEMENT WITH THE CUSTODIAL OR NON-CUSTODY PARENT?
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 roadmap 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. Children’s schedules change from pre-school to elementary school, and high school. Children benefit when parents create plans that suit their family’s needs.
SAMPLE COURT ORDERS
- Order in suit affecting the parent-child relationship
- Final decree of divorce
- Child support review order
- Possession and access order
Michael Busby Jr. is a divorce & family law attorney, who practices in Harris and Fort Bend Counties, Texas. He has been in practice for over 20 years and has tried over 300 cases. He is familiar with the policy and procedures of the Harris and Fort Bend County Texas family law courts.
Our office is open until 7:00 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for working folks.
Michael Busby Jr.
6100 Corporate Dr. Suite 190 Houston,
(713) 974-1151 Visit me on the web at www.busby-lee.com