Standard Possession Order Decoded

When it comes times to determine a possession schedule for the children, where do we start? Well, in Texas, it is always prudent to start with the Standard Possession Schedule found in the Texas Family Code. While both parties are encouraged to make changes as befits the uniqueness of their lives, this is a strong jumping off point because it is where most Judges will gravitate towards.

There are two distinct sections separating the Standard Possession Schedule, depending on where the parents or guardians reside: either within or without 100 miles of each other. In either event, the opposite section can be ignored. This is important, as clients can be frequently confused into reading and following the opposite section.

More commonly, parents will live within 100 miles of each other. In these cases, the non-custodial parent (common referred to as non-primary parent), will have the child(ren) on the first, third, and fifth weekends of the month and every Thursday during the school year. Importantly, we calculate the weekends based on the preceding Friday. So if the first of the month falls on a Friday, then that weekend is the first weekend of the month. If the first of the month is on a Saturday, that weekend is still considered in the previous month, and the following weekend will be the first one of the month.

To help make up for all the time with the custodial parent during the school year, the non-custodial parent gets 30 days over the summer, with the custodial parent getting to elect one take-back weekend. It is crucially important to read this section carefully as it contains several important dates by which elections from both sides be made. Confused yet? Hang in there with me because this is where it can get especially tricky. In addition to the Standard Possession Schedule, there is also an Expanded Standard Possession Schedule. Depending on which one we are talking about, there are slight extensions to these possession times. There are also specific terms for school holidays and Spring Break.

If you live further than 100 miles from the other parent, you can ignore the two previous paragraphs. You’re welcome. But pay attention because the non-custodial parent has the option to make an election here. He or she can elect to either the above first, third, and fifth weekends, or elect one particular weekend a month. This election is typically made on transportation grounds, but is up to the non-custodial parent. He or she won’t get the typical Thursday possession, but will get 42 days in summer and every Spring Break to make up for it.

The Order also contains certain holidays regardless of how far apart the parents live. They typically only provide for Christmas break, Thanksgiving, Father’s/Mother’s Day, and birthdays, but can be amended to include Jewish holidays, Halloween, Easter, or any other holidays desired. These are most commonly amended to account for each individual family’s unique holiday schedules.

If this feels overwhelming to read, I don’t blame you. This is yet another reason why hiring a dedicated family law attorney is crucial to making the best decisions for you and your family. To talk with an experienced family lawyer, schedule a consultation by contacting us here.