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Barbara L. Jouette, Attorney, P.C.
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What is a standard possession order?

In the state of Texas, parents are allowed to make their own child custody arrangements in a variety of ways, as long as both parents are in agreement. If the parents cannot agree about child custody and visitation, then the court will use a schedule that was developed by the Texas Legislature. This schedule is known as the standard possession order. The SPO grants visitation to the non-custodial parent every other weekend from 6 pm on a Friday until 6 pm on a Sunday. School holidays are divided evenly between the two parents.

Parents are allowed to choose alternate beginning and ending times for visitation periods, according to an expanded standard possession order. This expansion was enacted through a provision passed by the Texas Legislature in 1995. In order to select a different starting point for visitation, the change needs to be made before or during the time that the judge will be signing the SPO. This change can be made by the request of the noncustodial parent either orally in open court or in a written document that is filed with the court.

A lawyer with a background in family law may assist a parent with creating a child custody arrangement. If both parents can come to an agreement, it may be possible to negotiate a custom arrangement through mediation. In most cases, judges will accept arrangements agreed upon by both parents.

If the two parties cannot reach an agreement regarding child custody, the matter will be decided by the court after consideration of all evidence, and the determination will be based on what the court considers to be in the best interests of the child. A family law attorney can provide representation and work to protect the interests of a parent in this regard.

Source: State Bar of Texas, "Pro Se Divorce Handbook ", October 18, 2014

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