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What is a Standard Possession Order?

If you and your spouse are Texas parents contemplating a divorce, your biggest concern likely is the custody and visitation arrangement you will make for your children. You therefore should become familiar with two important legal terms Texas uses with regard to these matters. The first is possession order, meaning your parenting time schedule. The second is possessory conservator, meaning your children’s noncustodial parent.

As Texas Access explains, the Texas Family Code contains a Standard Possession Order that acts as the default visitation arrangement in all Texas divorces involving children. What this means is that if you and your spouse cannot agree between yourselves on how to divide your children’s time between you, this SPO does it for you. The SPO is a detailed parenting time schedule that sets forth exactly when each of you will have your children throughout the year, as well as where and how you will exchange them.

Less than 100 miles apart

If you and your ex-spouse live less than 100 miles from each other after your divorce, the SPO allows the possessory conservator to have possession of the children as follows:

  • First, third and fifth weekend of each month from 6 p.m. on Friday until 6 p.m. on Sunday
  • Every Thursday during the school year from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Child pick-up and return by receiving parent from and to other parent’s home or another agreed upon place
  • Receiving parent must return to the other parent all items the children bring with them

More than 100 miles apart

If you and your ex-spouse live more than 100 miles from each other after your divorce, the SPO allows the possessory conservator to have possession of the children as follows:

  • One weekend each month from 6 p.m. on Friday until 6 p.m. on Sunday
  • Extended time during the summer and spring break
  • Receiving parent can choose which weekend (s)he wants, but must give the other parent 14 days’ notice in writing or by telephone

Additional provisions

The SPO contains many other detailed provisions regarding with whom your children will spend their holidays, summer vacations and spring breaks.

Remember, the SPO is the default parenting time schedule if you and your spouse cannot agree on a schedule of your own. This is educational information only and not intended to provide legal advice.

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