If you have gone through a divorce where kids are involved, and neither you nor your former spouse was a bad actor, it’s likely one of you received a standard possession order in the decree.
A standard possession order is what is used by the courts as default when parents cannot agree on a possession schedule of the children. It creates a black and white, set schedule to adhere to in situations where something like week on week off possession isn’t feasible for whatever reason. Under the Texas Family Code a standard possession order is presumed to be in the best interest of a child over the age of three. However, it does not lock in the parents. Should they agree to something later down the line (usually in writing) they can deviate from the set possession schedule.
There are two types of standard possession schedule based on the distance of the parties. They are the standard possession order for parents that live within one hundred miles of each other, and the standard possession order for parents that live more than one hundred miles apart.
For those that live within one hundred miles, a standard possession schedule gives the non-primary parent possession of the children every first, third, and fifth weekend of every month. It also allows for every Thursday evening during the school session, an extended summer possession of thirty days, and alternating Christmases, Thanksgivings, and spring breaks.
The only major changes for those that live more than one hundred miles apart is that there are no Thursday visits, the summer possession instead is forty two days, and the non-primary parent gets every spring break. It is important to note that there is an alternate provision for parents more than one hundred miles apart. Instead of every first, third, and fifth weekend, the family code allows for the non-primary parent to have possession one weekend a month.
Both have additional language for the extended summer possession periods as well. For example if the primary parent provides notice by April 15th of a year, they are permitted to have possession of the children on any one weekend during the extended summer possession.
The standard possession order, can be modified by a judge. If the court makes findings that a standard possession order is too much, a parent may get sub-standard or supervised possession. If they finds that a standard order is not enough, a parent may receive an expanded standard possession order. And if the court needs to fine tune it, a modified possession order will be issued.