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What is a Standard Possession Order?

If you and your spouse decide to seek a Texas divorce, one of the most important things you will have to do is devise a post-divorce parenting plan setting forth how the two of you intend to make sure that your children continue to have the benefits of a continuing relationship with both of you. Admittedly, it can be difficult to arrive at a plan with which you both agree and will commit to live by. But what you need to realize is that if you and your spouse fail to agree to a parenting plan of your own devising, Texas law will put one in place for you.

The Texas Family Code provides for a Standard Possession Order that serves as the default parenting plan by which you and your then former spouse will have to abide if you do not devise one of your own.

Post-divorce residences fewer than 100 miles apart

The SPO provides for two post-divorce housing situations. The parenting time provisions if you and your former spouse maintain residences within 100 miles of each other include the following:

  • The possessory conservator, a/k/a the noncustodial parent, will host your children three weekends a month: first, third and fifth.
  • (S)he will likewise host your children every Thursday from 6–8 p.m. throughout the school year.
  • (S)he must provide the pick-up of your children from their custodial parent and also deliver them back to him or her when the visit ends.
  • Whatever clothing and other items your children take with them when they visit the possessory conservator, (s)he must return them along with the children when the visits end.

Post-divorce residences over 100 miles apart

If you and your former spouse maintain residences located over 100 miles from each other after your divorce, the SPO parenting plan provisions include the following:

  • The possessory conservator will host your children one weekend a month.
  • (S)he may choose his or her preferred weekend, but (s)he must convey this choice to the custodial parent a minimum of 14 days in advance via one of three methods: phone, email or snail mail.
  • (S)he will receive extended parenting time during your children’s spring breaks and summer vacations.

Remember, the Texas Standard Possession Order only comes into play if you and your spouse cannot devise your own parenting time plan that allows both of you to remain heavily involved in your children’s lives after your divorce.

This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.

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