Family Law Cases in Texas: Visitation, Possession and Access

Family Law Cases in Texas: Visitation, Possession and Access

In learning more about family law concepts and terminology, you may have encountered the terms: visitation, possession, and access. Interestingly enough, possession and access are what visitation is made up of. If you are a parent with visitation rights, you are the possessory conservator of the child who does not have the right to determine your child’s primary residence.

This means that your child lives primarily with their other parent and that you have visitation rights on the weekends and other times throughout the year. What are the types of visitation that you may have been ordered to have?

Types of Visitation Orders in Texas

When you undergo a divorce or Suit Affecting Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR) in Texas, you have several options for structuring your visitation. Remember, you and the other parent ultimately decide the schedule. If you both negotiate and agree on a visitation schedule without a judge’s intervention, your creativity and your child’s circumstances are the only limits to your schedule’s format.

Standard Possession Order

The Texas Family Code outlines the Standard Possession Order (SPO), providing a visitation arrangement. Under this order, visitation includes every other weekend and Thursday nights from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. You also alternate holiday visits for Thanksgiving and Christmas. The SPO also offers thirty days of summer visitation, or forty-two days if living over 100 miles away.

For detailed possession periods under an SPO, the Texas Family Code spells them out explicitly. To view specific dates, I recommend accessing the Code online for a thorough review. This default schedule is what Texas judges often use if parents can’t agree on visitation.

Modified Possession Orders

Family Law Cases in Texas: Visitation, Possession and Access

The Modified Possession Order (MPO), similar to the Standard Possession Order (SPO), tailors visitation to your family’s needs. It’s crucial for very young children, allowing more visitation as they grow.

For kids under three, the MPO prioritizes their best interests and specific needs. Judges may limit visitation, like overnight stays, to keep the child’s routine stable. Involved parents of young children often gain more overnight visits. Parenting young ones requires more cooperation and focus on their strict routines.

It’s vital for parents to discuss changes in their child’s life, such as new schedules or medications. This ensures effective co-parenting.

This cooperative effort is key to addressing the unique challenges of raising a young child compared to an older one.

Some “What Happens if…” Scenarios to Run by You.

Even the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry,” as the saying goes. This rings particularly true in family law, where despite well-intentioned plans, unforeseen issues can disrupt child visitation arrangements.

Non-Compliance by the Other Parent

If the other parent fails to adhere to visitation orders, your recourse is legal enforcement. This entails returning to court, presenting evidence of your compliance with the order, and demonstrating the other parent’s failure to facilitate visitation. Specific details of each missed visitation—date, time, and location—are crucial. For such complex cases, legal representation is recommended.

Declining Visitation

Conversely, if you’re the parent not exercising your visitation rights, it’s essential to inform the other parent. While they can’t force you to spend time with your child, consistently missed visits can impact your chances of securing additional visitation in future court modifications. Judges may hesitate to alter a child’s schedule for a parent who has shown a lack of interest in past visitations.

Importance of Exercising Visitation

Regularly engaging in your allocated visitation periods is beneficial for your child and crucial for maintaining your rights. Consistent involvement not only fosters a healthy relationship with your child but also strengthens your position should you seek to modify the court order later.

Final Thoughts

Family Law Cases in Texas: Visitation, Possession and Access

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, will continue our discussion of Texas Family Law topics tomorrow when we ask and answer more questions that will be almost assuredly relevant to you and your family if you face a family law case.

Our attorneys and staff are committed to providing our clients with excellent service and would be honored to speak to you about becoming a client of ours. Contact us today to schedule a free-of-charge consultation in which we can answer your questions.


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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it’s essential to speak with one of our Houston, TX, Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.

Our divorce lawyers in Houston, TX, are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, handles Divorce cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County, and Waller County.

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