February 17, 2022
Child custody is perhaps the most contentious issue in Texas family law. A standard custody agreement in Texas is considered the ideal child custody arrangement, provided it is consistent with the best interests of the child because it is based on an agreement between the parents. If the parents cannot agree, a Texas court will issue a Standard Possession Order (SPO). An SPO in Texas can be quite rigid if the parents cannot agree on custody.
In Texas child custody law, a Standard Possession Order allows the parents to determine who has possession of the child as long as they both agree and the child is at least three years old. If they don’t agree, possession of the child depends largely on how far away the parents live from each other.
If the parents live between 50 and 100 miles of each other, the non-custodial parent gets possession of the child:
Under Texas child visitation law, the court can modify this schedule under certain circumstances.
If the child’s parents live more than 100 miles apart, the non-custodial parent gets possession of the child:
Under this circumstance, the non-custodial parent is not entitled to a mid-week visit with the child.
A legal presumption applies to a standard possession order in Texas. The presumption is that such an order is in the child’s best interests if the child is at least three years old. Although you can overcome this presumption, you will have to prove that it shouldn’t apply in your case.
If the child is not yet three, however, the presumption does not apply. The court will determine the visitation schedule (or approve the parents’ agreement) based on factors such as the following:
The parents can agree to follow the standard possession order for older children, as long as it is in the best interests of the child to do so.
An extended standard possession order is the consequence of a change in Texas family law. This new law gives non-custodial parents who live within 50 miles of their children more time with their children.
Under this new scheme, the non-custodial parent’s possession of the child begins on Thursday prior to the first, third, and fifth weekends of the month. It begins at either the time school lets out or 6 pm., and it continues until whenever school resumes on Monday morning. The non-custodial parent is also entitled to overnight possession of the child on Thursdays of the weeks when the parent does not have weekend possession.
For school-aged children, summers and holidays represent a break in their normal schedules. For this reason, custody arrangements need to be adjusted to reflect this break in continuity. A standard Texas child custody order works like this:
The Texas standard order of possession is not written in stone. Many parents agree to an alternative standard visitation schedule, which is fine as long as it is consistent with the best interests of the child.
The “2-2-3” custody schedule is popular with many parents. One parent gets the child on Monday and Tuesday; the other parent gets the child on Wednesday and Thursday, and the parents alternate weekly on who has possession on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. This option offers the advantage of simplicity. It is not the only alternative arrangement, however — there are many other possible custody arrangements.
A standard custody order in Texas can be flexible enough to adjust to a situation where the parents live more than 100 miles apart. Typically, a court will accomplish this by:
Cooperation between the parents can greatly enhance the flexibility of these arrangements.
Following is a summary of the main differences between an SPO and an extended SPO when the parents live within 50 miles of each other.
The family law attorneys at Family Law of North Texas are ready for action. Contact us immediately by calling 903-818-8681 or by contacting us online for a free consultation. The longer you wait, the more difficult your circumstances are likely to become.
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