Texas child custody orders are the basic rules for custody, visitation, and other parental rights, commonly put in place after parents have divorced. When child custody has been decided, a Standard Possession Order is given to divorced parents by the State of Texas to provide a basis for visitation schedules. Parents can elect to collectively alter that order, although it is recommended they discuss this with a child custody attorney if that action is desired. A lawyer who handles child custody can help parents set up a modified agreement as necessary; however, here must be some form of access and possession order in place for parents to follow.

What Is A Standard Possession Order?

A Standard Possession Order (SPO), which is also called a Possession and Access Order, is a standardized access schedule created by the Texas Family Court to act as a guide for parents to divide parenting time with their children. The SPO dictates access time and possession time so that each parent is given an allotted amount of time with children. It also states what days, weekends, and holidays both custodial and noncustodial parents can have with children.  It also allows for summer vacation time with each parent as a way to facilitate visitation and other time for parents to interact with their children.

The SPO also designates things such as where and how parents will exchange children and includes specific rules for parents living more than 100 miles apart. SPOs do not apply to children under the age of three, as younger children may require different access and possession schedules.  It also does not apply when the court feels the general SPO will not be in a child’s best interest.

What Is Possession Time and Access Time

In the SPO, visitation is described in two different terms: possession time and access time. Possession time is the time when a parent has actual, physical possession with their child. Access time is time consisting of other types of interaction, such as phone time, video chatting, texting, and other social media, as well as attending school functions and activities, etc. The SPO provides a basic, recommended schedule that includes possession time and access time.

Modifying the Standard Possession Order

Although the SPO provides a suggested schedule for parents to balance their access and possession time, parents are not required to follow this order. Either alone or with the assistance of their child custody attorney, parents may work out a different access and possession schedule that better suits themselves and their children. As long as both parents are in agreement with the schedule and adhere to it, such modification is considered legal. If parents cannot agree on any other schedule, they are required to follow the SPO. Also, in the event that a parent does not adhere to an agreed schedule and it becomes necessary to talk to a child custody lawyer about compliance, the only schedule that the court will recognize is the SPO.

In Texas, the Standard Possession Order helps parents to legally share access and possession time with their children in order to maintain important family relationships. Parents with questions about the SPO, or who want to change their visitation schedule, should talk to their child custody attorney to help devise a more agreeable schedule that works for all involved parties. A lawyer experienced in handling child custody issues can help parents create a workable schedule that is within the rules of their specific child custody orders.

Garza & Elizondo, LLP

Downtown Brownsville
680 East St. Charles St, Suite 600
Brownsville TX 78520
(979) 202-0067

North Brownsville
1393 East Alton Gloor Blvd, Suite 12
Brownsville TX 78526
(979) 202-0067

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