Creating a Workable Child Visitation and Possession Order in Texas

Creating a workable child visitation and possession order in Texas is crucial for parents navigating the complexities of family law. This process involves establishing a structured schedule that determines when each parent will have physical possession of their child. If you’re a parent navigating a divorce or child custody case, chances are you’ve been contemplating what you envision for your child’s future post-case. Ultimately, your decisions revolve around their well-being, a responsibility you hold dearly. As a parent, you wield significant influence over shaping their path to success more than anyone else they encounter.

Unfortunately, much of your authority as a parent and your direct influence over your child’s life can be restricted when you enter into a family law case. Your child’s other parent and possibly a judge will also weigh in on matters concerning your children. From the judge’s perspective, determining what is in your child’s best interests is paramount before making any decisions regarding custody, visitation, and support. This is known as the “best interest” standard, granting judges significant discretion if they are called upon to decide for your children in the absence of agreement between you and your child’s other parent.

Maximizing parenting time in Texas

Today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC tackles a common concern among our clients: the amount of time they’ll be able to spend with their children after a divorce or custody case. Many of our clients realize that post-divorce, the days of coming home from work and automatically seeing their children are behind them. This realization places an added emphasis on negotiating for maximum parenting time during their family law proceedings.

For you and any other parent navigating a family law issue in Texas, today’s blog is dedicated to providing clarity. We will explore the various types of possession orders in Texas and discuss the factors that may affect your case in this regard. To begin, let’s define what a possession order is and its significance in determining parenting arrangements.

Possession Orders explained

When discussing a visitation order, we’re essentially referring to the specific periods when both you and your child’s other parent will physically have possession of your child. You and the other parent can establish these orders through mutual agreement on a possession schedule, or a judge can issue them after a hearing or trial. It’s crucial to understand that possession orders are subject to modification or amendment in the future based on changing circumstances.

In your divorce or child custody case in Texas, you’re likely to encounter two main types of possession orders: a standard possession order (SPO) and a modified possession order. Let’s delve into each of these in greater detail.

Standard Possession Order (SPO)

In Texas family law cases, a Standard Possession Order (SPO) is typically presumed to be in the best interests of a child over the age of three at the case’s conclusion. Contrary to common belief, an SPO does not dictate specific times for each parent’s possession of the child. Instead, it emphasizes the importance of parents working together to mutually agree on possession schedules. This approach maximizes autonomy for both you and your child’s other parent in managing your relationships with your child.

If you and your child’s other parent cannot agree on how to divide parenting time with your child in all instances, a Standard Possession Order (SPO) provides fallback orders that determine when each of you can spend time with your child.

In a Standard Possession Order (SPO), one parent actively determines the primary residence of your child, which significantly impacts parenting arrangements. This means that parent will reside with your child on a weekly basis.

The other parent will have visitation rights according to a schedule that typically looks like this:

1. First, third, and fifth weekends of each month, starting Friday at 6:00 p.m. and ending Sunday at 6:00 p.m.
2. Thursday evenings during the school year, often referred to as a casual visitation period.
3. Holidays that alternate annually, such as Spring break and Thanksgiving. The Christmas schedule alternates yearly between parents, with the first half starting when the child is released from school, and the second half beginning two days after Christmas.
4. A 30-day extended visitation period during the summer, with dates usually agreed upon in writing between parents by April 1st, including a weekend of the other parent’s choice.

If parents live more than 100 miles apart, the visitation schedule typically adjusts to include:

– One weekend per month for the parent with visitation rights.
– No midweek visitation.
– Extended summer visitation of 42 days instead of 30 days.

Modified Possession Order

A modified possession order incorporates certain principles of a Standard Possession Order (SPO) but customizes the possession schedule to better suit the needs of your family. A judge or parents in mediation craft a modified possession order, unlike the schedule specified for an SPO by the Texas Family Code. It’s generally more feasible for parents to devise this schedule themselves, as judges typically prefer to order an SPO rather than modify a visitation schedule.

A “week on, week off” possession schedule is often effective for older children in a modified possession order. Older children can typically handle longer periods away from each parent independently. This arrangement provides extended time for each parent with the child, resulting in a 50/50 split of time that many parents find attractive.

In a modified possession order, another approach is to alternate weekends and divide the weeks in arrangements like “2/3/2”. This means one parent has the child for two weekdays one week, three weekdays the next, and so forth. However, this schedule may not suit all families. Logistical challenges can arise for some parents, and frequent transitions may be costly and stressful for children with specific needs or schedules.


Crafting a workable child visitation and possession order in Texas requires careful consideration of the child’s needs, parental schedules, and legal guidelines. By prioritizing communication, flexibility, and the child’s well-being, parents can navigate this process with greater clarity and cooperation. Whether opting for a Standard Possession Order (SPO) or a modified arrangement tailored through mediation or court, the goal remains consistent: to establish a stable routine that fosters healthy parent-child relationships despite the challenges of divorce or custody disputes. Staying informed about legal options and seeking professional guidance can pave the way for a smoother transition and long-term harmony within the family dynamic.

More questions on visitation and possession? Head back to our blog tomorrow in order to read more

If you have additional questions about possession and visitation, please join us on our blog tomorrow as we delve deeper into this crucial topic. In the meantime, if you need immediate answers, feel free to reach out to the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. Our licensed family law attorneys provide free consultations six days a week. We’re here to address your concerns in a comfortable, pressure-free environment.

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  2. Preventing and Addressing Visitation Withholding in Texas Divorces
  3. Do I Have The Right To Know Where My Child Is During Visitation In Texas?
  4. Family visitation during a Texas Child Protective Services case
  5. When Can You Deny Visitation to the Non-custodial Parent in Texas?
  6. Firefighter Visitation Schedules for Those Who Work 24-Hour Shifts
  7. Can a Shift Worker Have a Good Visitation Arrangement?
  8. The Impact of Juneteenth (and Other Federal Holidays) on Possession and Visitation Schedules
  9. What Role Do Fathers Play in Visitation During a Texas CPS Case?
  10. Understanding Child Visitation and Standard Possession Orders in Texas: A Detailed Guide by the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

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