Bruce C. Zivley, Attorney at Law

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Texas custody and standard possession orders

Many Texas parents have a difficult time agreeing to a parenting and custody plan when undergoing child custody disputes, whether they have been married or not. In those situations, family law judges will determine with which parent the child will primarily reside according to the court's determination of the child's best interests.

Because courts generally believe it is in a child's best interests to spend time with both parents in most cases, even when a child will primarily reside with one parent, the other normally will enjoy visitation. To make certain a visitation order is fair, Texas courts use a standard possession order when parents are otherwise unable to come up with one on their own.

The standard possession order allows visitation on the first, third and fifth Fridays of each month beginning at 6:00 PM. Visitation under such an order ends on the following Sunday at 6:00 PM. Additionally, parents will enjoy visiting time from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM on Thursdays. Holidays are divided between the parents, with each one enjoying Holiday parenting time in alternating years. During summers, the non-custodial parent will have the child for 30 days, or 42 days if the child and parent live more than 100 miles from one another.

Noncustodial parents are able to elect an expanded possession order under the law, in which they can elect to exercise visitation at the time school ends on the Friday until it begins on Monday. In order to do this, the request must be made in writing at the time the court is making the custody and visitation decisions. People who are in custody disputes may benefit from seeking the advice of a family law attorney to help them choose what is best for both them and their child in a proposed parenting plan.

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

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