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Standard possession orders in Texas

In Texas, a standard possession order is the equivalent of a legal visitation schedule. Also known as an SPO, these orders dictate when a nonresidential parent has the legal right to spend time with the child. Parents have the opportunity to devise a visitation schedule without the court's intervention. However, if the parties cannot agree, then the court generally assigns a standard possession order. This ensures that the child is given adequate, quality time with the nonresidential parent in an impartial manner.

Standard possession takes effect at 6 pm every other Friday. At 6 pm on Sunday, the child is remanded back to the residential parent. If the school year has begun, the nonresidential parent has the right to spend two hours with the child on Thursday evening. The standard time is between 6 to 8 pm. However, the nonresidential parent is able, through written request, to ask the court for Thursday visitation to begin when the child leaves school.

For holidays, spring break and summer vacation, the standard possession order accommodates the nonresidential parent by permitting additional visitation time. During holidays, the child will spend time with the nonresidential parent alternately. If the nonresidential parent takes standard possession of Thanksgiving on one year, the child will remain with the residential parent during the same holiday the next year. During summer, the child will spend 30 days with the nonresidential parent, with an additional 12 days if that parent lives more than 100 miles away.

Establishing visitation rights is important because a child should have reasonable access to both parents. Consulting a family law attorney can help ensure that a standard possession order is in place to give the child quality time with each parent.

Source: State Bar of Texas, "Pro Se Divorce Handbook ", October 14, 2014

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