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What is a Standard Possession Order?

If you have children, but you and your Texas spouse are thinking about getting a divorce, likely one of your main concerns is how much parenting time you will have with your children after the divorce. Assuming you and your spouse can agree on a parenting time plan, you can structure it basically however you wish. If you cannot agree, however, the Texas Family Code has what is called a Standard Possession Order that acts as the default parenting plan in such situations.

This SPO contains within it a detailed parenting time schedule to which you and your then ex-spouse must abide. The whole idea is to give both your children’s custodial and noncustodial parent as much parenting time as possible, but to do this in a structured way. The SPO contains two schedules, one for if you and your ex-spouse live 100 or fewer miles apart from each other, and the other for if the two of you live more than 100 miles apart.

Fewer than 100 miles apart schedule

Keep in mind that all Standard Possession Orders refer to the noncustodial parent as the possessory conservator. The fewer than 100 miles apart SPO parenting time plan calls for the following basic visitation schedule:

  • Possessory conservator gets the child(ren) on each month’s first, third and fifth weekends from 6 p.m. on Friday to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
  • During the school year, (s)he also gets the child(ren) every Thursday evening from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • (S)he must pick up the child(ren) and return them to the custodial parent or another agreed-upon location whenever it is his or her turn to have them.
  • (S)he must return to the custodial parent all clothing and other items the child(ren) bring with them.

More than 100 miles apart schedule

As you might foresee, mutual parenting becomes more difficult if you and your ex-spouse live more than 100 miles apart from each other. The more than 100 miles apart SPO takes that into consideration with the following basic provisions:

  • Possessory conservator gets the child(ren) one weekend each month from 6 p.m. on Friday to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
  • (S)he can choose which weekend (s)he wants, but (s)he must inform the custodial parent of his or her choice by phone, mail or email at least 14 days ahead of time.
  • (S)he gets expanded parenting time with the child(ren) during their summer and spring breaks.

This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.

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