In Texas child custody cases, a “possession order” is another name for a visitation order that allows the noncustodial parent the right to spend time with his or her child. Various types of possession orders exist that can be used by the courts according to the circumstances of the case. These include Standard Possession Orders, Modified Possession Orders, Possession Orders for a Child Under Three, and Supervised Possession Orders where a parent is granted visitation only while being supervised by another party.
The Standard Possession Order is commonly used by the courts for children aged three and older; it is considered to be in the best interests of the child to spend quality time with both parents. Thus, this Possession Order gives the noncustodial parent (the parent with whom the child does not mainly live) access to the child on a standard schedule throughout the year. It is outlined in Texas Family Code Chapter 153.252.
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The Standard Possession Order
Under a Standard Possession Order, Texas law allows parents to share parenting time with a child whenever they both are in agreement about it. If they fail to agree, the Order gives the noncustodial parent the right to have access to the child as follows according to whether they live less than or more than 100 miles apart.
For parents who live less than 100 miles apart, the Order gives the noncustodial parent the following access:
- The first, third, and fifth weekend of every month
- Every other holiday
- Thursday nights throughout the school year
- At least 30 days during summer vacations
When the parents live more than 100 miles apart, the Order allows the weekend schedule to remain the same or be reduced to only one weekend in the month, eliminates the Thursday night visit, keeps holidays the same, and allows for a longer access period during the summer and spring breaks, extending visitan to 42 days.
Other Visitation Orders
If the Standard Possession Order will not work in any case, it can be modified to accommodate workable changes. This can be done with the help of a family law attorney who is experienced in Texas child custody issues. Possession Orders can be modified to alternating weeks, split weeks with alternating weekends, day visits without overnights, and other arrangements. For a child under three, the matter becomes more complicated. The court will look at various factors to determine how best to handle visitation with the overarching idea that it is in the child’s best interests to have parenting time with both parents. In these cases, it is recommended that you work out your arrangement with the help of your attorney.
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