Navigating the complex world of family law in Texas can be challenging, especially when it comes to matters involving your children. One term that often comes up during child custody proceedings is the “Standard Possession Order” (SPO). But what exactly is an SPO? How does it work, and how can it affect your family’s future? This blog post will delve into these questions and more.
What is a Standard Possession Order?
In the state of Texas, a Standard Possession Order is a schedule outlined by the Texas Family Code that specifies the minimum visitation a non-custodial parent is entitled to have with their children following a separation or divorce. The SPO also includes provisions for holidays and vacations, aiming to provide a fair and balanced allocation of time between both parents.
Key Elements of a Standard Possession Order
During the School Year
Under the Standard Possession Order, the non-custodial parent typically has the right to possession of the child on the first, third, and fifth weekends of each month. Weekend possession generally begins at 6 p.m. on Friday and ends at 6 p.m. on the following Sunday.
Additionally, the non-custodial parent has the right to Thursday evenings during the school year. This usually starts at 6 p.m. and ends at 8 p.m. but can be extended overnight if agreed upon.
During the Summer and Holidays
The SPO also provides extended periods of possession for the non-custodial parent during holidays and the summer. For instance, the non-custodial parent generally has possession of the child for a significant portion of the summer, often about a month.
Holidays are alternated, with even-numbered years assigning certain holidays to one parent, and odd-numbered years assigning them to the other.
Flexibility of an SPO
While the Standard Possession Order provides a baseline, it’s important to remember that parents can mutually agree to modify these arrangements. The courts often encourage parents to collaborate on a visitation schedule that best suits the child’s needs and the parents’ circumstances.
When an SPO Might Not Be Appropriate
In certain cases, a Standard Possession Order might not be the most suitable arrangement. For instance, if the parents live more than 100 miles apart, or if a parent has a history of family violence, neglect, or substance abuse, the court might determine that a different possession order would better serve the child’s best interests. In these cases, the court can create a custom possession order.
Navigating Child Custody with Legal Help
While this overview provides a basic understanding of the Texas Standard Possession Order, child custody matters can be intricate and emotionally charged. Therefore, it’s crucial to work with an experienced Texas family law attorney who can provide tailored advice and guide you through the legal process.
Every family’s situation is unique, and the outcome of custody proceedings can have lasting impacts on your relationship with your child. Being informed, prepared, and represented by skilled legal counsel can make a significant difference in your case.