FAQs
Frequently Asked Questions

This is another post in my Super Simple FAQs series…

What is visitation in Texas?

Or What is the Texas Standard Possession Schedule?

In Texas, visitation is the loose term for the periods of possession of or access to children of parents who are no longer or never have been married to each other. Texas has certain guidelines in the law for visitation or periods of possession called the Texas Standard Possession Schedule. The first step in deciding who gets the children when is to look at who has been appointed the “primary parent” deciding the children’s primary residence. That person will have the child at all times not awarded to the secondary parent. The secondary parent will be presumed to have at least the Texas Standard Possession Schedule. A court may give more of less than the Texas Standard Possession Schedule based on the particular circumstances of the family.

There are three main categories within the Texas Standard Possession Schedule — possession for parents who live within 100 miles of each other, possession for parents who live more than 100 miles apart, and holiday possession periods that apply regardless of distance.

For parents who live within 100 miles of each other, the secondary parent will get the child every Thursday during the school year from 6 to 8 pm; every 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekend of a month from Friday to Sunday; 30 days during the summer; and every other Spring Break. For parents who live more than 100 miles apart, the secondary parent may choose to have every 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekend, or that parent may elect to have one weekend a month at his or her choice with notice to the other parent of which weekend is chosen each month. Additionally, when the parents live far apart, the secondary parent will get 45 days with the child each summer and every Spring Break. Parents who live far apart do not get Thursday periods, for obvious reasons.

Holidays are shared between the parents, regardless of distance, with alternating periods for Thanksgiving, the first half of Christmas break, and the second half of Christmas break. One year, one parent will have Thanksgiving and the second half of Christmas break, which the other parent will have the first half of Christmas break. That will flip the next year. Each year, the  mother will have Mother’s Day weekend and the Father will have Father’s Day weekend. Other holidays such as Easter, July 4th, or Halloween are not addressed in the rules and therefore just follow with the other provisions of the schedule.

The secondary parent who lives within 100 miles has the right to choose certain expansions as to the Thursday and weekend periods of possession, requesting to pick up the child from school or return to school at the end of his or her period.

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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.