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What Is a Standard Possession Order?

If you and your spouse contemplate getting a Texas divorce, you should be aware that you will need to arrive at a parenting plan regarding your children. If you fail to construct one yourselves, the Texas Family Code provides a Standard Possession Order that the state will impose on you by default.

Keep in mind that you and your spouse have every right to come up with your own parenting time schedule. The Standard Possession Order comes into play only if you cannot do so. The SPO contains two detailed parenting time schedules, one applicable if you and your former spouse will live fewer than 100 miles apart after your divorce and the other applicable if the two of you will live more than 100 miles apart.

Schedule for when you live fewer than 100 miles away from each other

The SPO calls your children’s noncustodial parent the possessory conservator. This schedule calls for the following basic parenting times:

  • The children visit the possessory conservator on the first, third and fifth weekend of each month from 6 p.m. on Friday to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

  • The children also visit the possessory conservator from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. every Thursday during the school year.

  • For each visitation, the possessory conservator picks up the children and returns them to the custodial parent.

  • The possessory conservator must return whatever clothing, etc. the children bring with them to the custodial parent at the end of each visitation.

Schedule for when you live more than 100 miles away from each other

Should you and your former spouse wind up living more than 100 miles apart from each other, the SPO provides for the following parenting times:

  • The children visit the possessory conservator from 6 p.m. on Friday to 6 p.m. on Sunday one weekend each month.

  • The possessory conservator can choose whichever weekend (s)he wants, but (s)he must advise the custodial parent at least 14 days in advance by letter, email or phone call.

  • The possessory conservator receives extended parenting time with the children during the summers and their spring breaks from school.

The SPO’s whole purpose is to give both you and your former spouse as much parenting time as is reasonably possible under the circumstances of your post-divorce living arrangements. Should the two of you prefer to create your own parenting time schedule, you would do well to use the Standard Possession Order as a guideline for what constitutes reasonable parenting time for both parents after a divorce.