As discussed in my blog yesterday, on March 12, 2013, a Texas jury in the Deion and Pilar Sanders divorce ruled that Deion Sanders would have Sole Managing Conservatorship of the couple’s two boys and that Deion and Pilar would be joint managing conservators of the couple’s daughter with Deion determining the daughter’s primary residence.  Last week, the Judge ordered that Deion Sanders was to no longer pay any child support to Pilar.  He also ruled that Pilar is to have a Standard Possession Order with all three children.

What exactly is a Standard Possession Order?  In Texas, there is a presumption, just like the presumption that two parents are to be Joint Managing Conservators, that it is in a child’s best interest that a parent have at least a Standard Possession Order with the child.  This presumption is rebuttable.  If you are requesting a parent have less than a Standard Possession Order, you must rebut the presumption by showing some form of child abuse, harm, or neglect or domestic violence as well as demonstrating that it is in the child’s best interest for the parent to have less possession and access than a Standard Possession Order.

 The Standard Possession Order is as follows:

Weekends – On the 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekend of the month beginning Friday at 6:00 p.m. and ending Sunday at 6:00 p.m.

Thursdays during the school year – Beginning at 6:00 p.m. and ending at 8:00 p.m.

Thirty Days in the summer – If a parent makes a specific designation by April 1st of each year, a parent may designate thirty days which shall be operated in no more than two periods with each period of possession being no less than seven days.
If a parent does not make a specific designation for their thirty days in the summer by April 1st, then the default possession is July 1st – 31st. 
The other parent then gets to pick one weekend of possession to occur during the parent’s thirty days in the summer as well as one weekend of possession during the parent’s regular 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekends of the month.

Spring Break in even years is awarded to the parent under a Standard Possession Order.

Holidays are divided between the parents based upon even and odd years. 
Christmas Holidays in Even-Numbered Years – In even-numbered years, beginning at 6:00 p.m. on the day the child is dismissed from school for the Christmas school vacation and ending at noon on December 28th
Christmas Holidays in Even-Numbered Years – In odd-numbered years, beginning at noon on December 28 and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the day before school resumes after that Christmas school vacation.
Thanksgiving in Odd-Numbered Years – beginning at 6:00 p.m. on the day the child is dismissed from school for the Thanksgiving holiday and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the Sunday following Thanksgiving.

Depending on which parent is under a Standard Possession Order, that parent is entitled to either Mother’s Day or Father’s Day weekend (depending on their sex) beginning at 6:00 p.m. on the Friday before the Mother’s/Father’s Day and ending at 6:00 p.m. on Mother’s/Father’s Day.

A parent under a Standard Possession Order may make an election to have an Expanded Standard Possession Order if the Judge finds that an Expanded Standard Possession Order is in a child’s best interest.  An Expanded Standard Possession Order means that a parent’s possession can begin at the time is school is dismissed and end at 6:00 p.m. on the respective day or it can begin at 6:00 p.m. and end at the time school resumes the day after the day of possession under a Standard Possession Order.  For example: on the 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekend of the month, a parent can elect (with the Judge’s permission) to have possession beginning at the time school is dismissed on Friday and ending at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday or beginning at 6:00 p.m. on Friday and ending at the time school resumes on Monday. 

What is significant with the Judge’s ruling regarding Pilar Sanders possession schedule is that the Judge must have found that it was not in the children’s best interest for Pilar to have an Expanded Standard Possession Order with the children and instead only awarded her a Standard Possession Order. 

Stay tuned for my next blog where I will discuss pre-nuptial agreements in Texas and the role Deion and Pilar Sanders’ pre-nuptial agreement plays in their divorce.

 

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Photo of Michelle O'Neil Michelle O'Neil

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes…

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes genuine compassion for her client’s difficulties, yet she can be relentless when in pursuit of a client’s goals. One judge said of Ms. O’Neil, “She cannot be out-gunned, out-briefed, or out-lawyered!”

Family Law Specialist

Ms. O’Neil became a board-certified family law specialist by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 1997 and has maintained her certification since that time. While representing clients in litigation before the trial court is an important part of her practice, Ms. O’Neil also handles appellate matters in the trial court, courts of appeals and Texas Supreme Court. Lawyers frequently consult with Ms. O’Neil on their litigation cases about specialized legal issues requiring particularized attention both at the trial court and appellate levels. This gives her a unique perspective and depth of perception that benefits both her litigation and appellate clients.

Top Lawyers in Texas and America

Ms. O’Neil has been named to the list of Texas SuperLawyers for many years, 2011-2018, a peer-voted honor given to only about 5% of the lawyers in the state of Texas. In 2014-2018, Ms. O’Neil received the special honor of being named by Texas SuperLawyers as one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers in Texas, Top 100 Lawyers in Texas, and Top 100 Lawyers in DFW. She was named one of the Best Lawyers in America for 2016 and received an “A-V” peer review rating by Martindale-Hubbell Legal Directories for the highest quality legal ability and ethical standards.

Author and Speaker

A noted author, Ms. O’Neil released her second book Basics of Texas Divorce Law in November 2010, with a second edition released in 2013, and a third edition expected in 2015.  Her first book, All About Texas Law and Kids, was published in September 2009 by Texas Lawyer Press. In 2012, Ms. O’Neil co-authored the booklets What You Need To Know About Common Law Marriage In Texas and Social Study Evaluations.  The State Bar of Texas and other providers of continuing education for attorneys frequently enlist Ms. O’Neil to provide instruction to attorneys on topics of her expertise in the family law arena.