No two families are created equal. As a family law office, the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC understand this to be true in more ways than one. One of those ways is how families are able to rally around their children and provide a support system in the wake of a family law case. Whether your family is going through a child custody or divorce case, chances are that you are working with your child’s other parent to come in with a plan to parent your child after the case has concluded. Some families are able to work together better than others. There are a lot of factors to consider when deciding on how your child is going to be parented and who is going to do that parenting.
Generally speaking in Texas one parent is named as the primary conservator of your child. Whichever parent, you or your opposing party, will be able to designate the primary residence of your child and will live with your child during the week. This is the position that most parents want to find themselves in. You would stand to have more time and possession of your child compared to the other parent. You would also be able to have primary responsibility (most of the time) when it comes to decision making on important issues like school and medical treatment.
The “other” parent would come to be known as a possessory conservator, or the parent with visitation rights. This does not mean that you would not have any time with your child if you were named as this parent but it would mean that you would “only” be able to see your child on the first, third and fifth weekends of each month with holidays alternating with the other parent. Extended periods of possession in the summer are nice but don’t necessarily make up for ceding a great deal of time to the other parent during the school year.
If I had to guess (I’ve never done an exact calculation) I would say that this type of parenting plan (which is basically what a Standard Possession Order (SPO) looks like) divides time up on a 55/45 basis with the parent who lives with your child during the school year having the advantage as far as time is concerned. Weekends would be spent primarily with the parent who has visitation and holidays break down pretty evenly.
Unique family circumstances can demand unique possession schedules
What happens if your family is in a situation where your work schedule, or that of your child’s other parent are not 9-5, 40 hour a week commitments? What if one of you is an over the road trucker or a thoracic surgeon who is on call six days of every week? I don’t know that a “typical” possession schedule for your child would work well. After all, what you are ultimately trying to do is maximize your time with your child and to provide him or her with opportunities to develop a relationship with both parents. This is what is in the child’s best interests.
So ultimately, what are the options that your family has to arrive at this sort of desirable outcome? How much say do you have in the matter?
You and your child’s other parent hold all the cards
A judge, despite what other people may have told you, will not barge into your case and begin issuing orders that related to custody, visitation and possession. In fact, every judge in Texas would prefer to not do any of that. They would definitely prefer that you come up with a plan with your child’s other parent and leave them out of it. A judge plays tie breaker only when every other option (informal settlement negotiations, mediation, etc.) do not work out
The simple fact is that families in today’s world do not have work schedules that allow for a cookie cutter visitation schedule like those proscribed in the Texas Family Code. A SPO is great and is presumed to work well for families and children, but in practice it may not work well for you and yours. As our economy shifts towards “gig” and “1099” jobs where you must work when and where the work takes you it is not uncommon to find that neither parent of a child has a job that lends itself to a consistent schedule.
On top of that, consider that your family may have any number of the following characteristics that makes a SPO unworkable: substance abuse, special needs of a child, parents who live more than 100 miles from one another, and family violence in the home. These factors almost certainly will make a SPO not workable as far as most families are concerned. When you are faced with these realities you come face to face with the realization that it is in your best interests to attempt to work out a settlement on these issues with your child’s other parent. If you are not able to do so you run the risk of having a judge try to make a ruling on the subject. It is likely that you would not like the results given their inability to come up with a solution when you and your child’s other parent were unable to do so yourselves.
How working well with your child’s other parent benefits everyone
The most notable person to benefit from strong cooperation from both parents is your child. Your child is the one who is caught in the middle of squabbling and problems brought about by an inability for you and your child’s other parent to work together to come up with a practical parenting plan for your child.
On the other hand, if you and your child’s other parent there are options that you can undertake that are appealing, all things considered. An important note to make at this point is that a SPO does not tell you when you have to have possession of your child. Rather, it provides a fall back provision for situations where you and your child’s other parent cannot agree on how to divide time up with your child. Ideally you and the other parent can work together continuously to evolve the possession order and can be flexible based on the changing needs of all persons involved.
Some caution must be provided at this stage if you anticipate that you will be the parent with whom your child does not reside with primarily. A major issue can occur if you agree to a SPO in the event that your work schedule is not traditional. This means that if you and your ex-spouse have an agreement in place where you all will work together to determine “on the fly” visitation schedules you will often times be at their mercy as to when you will be able to see your child.
Work with your attorney to arrive at a creative solution
You need to be able to trust your attorney and to a great extent your child’s other parent, if you are trying to work on unorthodox or creative possession schedules for your child. Maximizing your time with your child is the name of the game and is a noble goal to try for. Don’t get frustrated if you all are not able to solve your problems after only a round or two of negotiation. Working with mediators and letting time work to your advantage can help you see your case through to a successful endpoint.
Questions about how to come up with a unique possession schedule for your child? Contact our office
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC works with families just like yours to come up with creative solutions to difficult family law problems. We take pride in offering our legal services to families in our community. To speak with one of our licensed family law attorneys please do not hesitate to contact us today. We offer free of charge consultations six days a week with one of our licensed family law attorneys. Thank you for your consideration and interest in this topic.