100 Miles or More Apart Makes Big Differences for Visitation

We’ve written about the Standard Possession Order before. It’s the default order a court signs for visitation with the children. But the default order comes in two flavors: when parents live 100 miles or less apart, or over 100 miles apart. That might seem like a long way, but as a Texas court of appeals recently observed, “In Texas, 80 miles borders on a mere hop, skip and jump away.” The experienced Houston family law attorneys at Boudreaux | Hunter & Associates, L.L.C., can help you understand your rights when the parents live far apart.

Boudreaux | Hunter & Associates, L.L.C., is composed of veteran family law attorneys. For one of the partners, Kevin Hunter, that’s literally true. Prior to becoming an attorney, Mr. Hunter served in the United States Air Force as a firefighter. Later, he attended South Texas College of Law where he excelled in oral advocacy. The firm’s other partner, Shannon Boudreaux, brings many years of experience to the table. She also graduated from South Texas College of Law. Her expertise ranges from resolving issues through mediation to litigating high-conflict divorce cases.

The 100 Miles Differences

The Texas Family Code sets out the Standard Possession Order in Section 153.312. The next section, Section 153.313, includes the changes when the parents live more than 100 miles apart. There are four differences between the two sections:

  • Regular weekend visitation
  • Thursday nights
  • Spring break
  • Summer vacation

The Weekend Election

The Standard Possession Order provides for weekend visitation beginning on the first, third, and if there is one, fifth Friday of each month. Visitation begins at 6:00 p.m. Friday and lasts until 6:00 p.m. Sunday. Visitation also exists for every Thursday night during the school year, from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. The parent who has visitation on Thursdays can elect for visitation to begin when school lets out an ends when school resumes on Friday morning.  For weekend visitation, the non-custodial parent can elect for visitation to begin when school lets out on Friday and ends on Monday morning when school resumes.

When the parents live more than 100 miles apart, the parent with weekend visitation gets a choice: That parent may have the kids for the usual first, third and fifth weekends, from 6:00 p.m. Friday until 6:00 p.m. Sunday. Or, that parent may elect to have one weekend per month of his or her choice. If the parent picks the latter option, that parent must give the other parent at least fourteen days’ notice, in writing or by phone, of the weekend selected.

No Thursday Nights When More Than 100 Miles Apart

Under the Standard Possession Order, the parent with visitation gets the kids every Thursday night during the school year, either from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., or overnight, from the time school lets out to when it begins the next morning. When the parents live more than 100 miles apart, Thursday night visitation is eliminated.

Spring Break

Another section of the Texas Family Code says that Christmas and Thanksgiving holidays alternate yearly. That section also grants each parent the Mother’s Day weekend or the Father’s Day weekend.

But the law treats Spring Break differently. When the parents live 100 miles or less apart, Spring Break alternates yearly. It lasts from 6:00 p.m. on the day school recesses for Spring Break and ends at 6:00 p.m. the night before school resumes. The option to pick up a child from school is available. When parents live more than 100 miles apart, the parent with visitation gets every Spring Break, from 6:00 p.m. on the day school lets out until 6:00 p.m. on the night before school resumes.

Summer Vacation Over 100 Miles Apart

The last difference in visitation based on more than 100 miles apart is summer vacation. Under the Standard Possession Order, the parent with visitation chooses thirty days in the summer, between seven days after school lets out for the summer and seven days before it begins again. If the parent does not make a choice, by default, that parent receives the month of July.

When parents live over 100 miles apart, the parent with visitation has the children for forty-two days during summer vacation. The parent gets to choose the forty-two day period. If that parent does not make a choice, the forty-two days begin on June 15 and last until July 27.

Regardless of the distance apart, the parent with visitation can break the visitation period into two periods of at least one week apiece. There are also provisions for each parent to see the kids during the other parent’s summer vacation period.

If you need help with visitation, either over 100 miles or closer, please do not hesitate to contact Boudreaux | Hunter & Associates, L.L.C., by calling (713) 333-4430 or visiting our contact page. We would be glad to help you with whatever issues you are facing.

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