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What is the standard possession order?

Child custody in Texas involves joint legal custody more often than not, with the parents sharing responsibility in making decisions. A standard possession order determines how much time the parents spend with the children and is separate from decision-making duties.

The standard possession order is part of the typical custody arrangement in Texas. The SPO relates to access and possession, otherwise known as visitation. There is a basic version of the SPO that allows the non-custodial parent visitation on odd-numbered weekends, two hours each Thursday night, alternating holidays and a minimum of one month each summer. Parents may work out a mutually agreeable schedule if they prefer. There are also some other considerations included in the SPO that include where exchanges occur. When one of the parents lives more than 100 miles away, special considerations are taken into account. This type of order does not necessarily apply to a child under three years of age.

An alternative to the SPO may be an option if the SPO is not in the best interests of the child. Courts have a legal obligation to ensure that child custody and visitation agreements are what is best for a child. Domestic violence and other factors may influence possession and access.

Parents who are contemplating a divorce want to make sure they act in their child's best interests. It is not uncommon for parents to have some sort of dispute regarding visitation. Another common situation is when parents feel that an alternative to the SPO would suit the needs of their child better. Getting proper legal advice regarding visitation is often recommended in order to keep things less stressful for the child.

Source: Texas law help, "What about custody and visitation?", October 17, 2014

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