Visitation for the Non-Custodial Parent: The Standard Possession Order

If you have sole custody, your children live with you. Even if you have joint custody, the children probably live primarily with one of the parents. We’ve mentioned before that visitation in Texas is called “possession.” The courts usually use the Standard Possession Order to set the visitation schedule. The experienced child custody attorneys at Boudreaux | Hunter & Associates, L.L.C., can advise you about the Standard Possession Order and how to tweak it.

Shannon Boudreaux is a partner in Boudreaux | Hunter & Associates, L.L.C. Ms. Boudreaux has a wealth of experience in custody issues dating back to her degree in psychology and sociology from the University of Houston. Ms. Boudreaux enjoys the respect of the community, being rated “10,” the highest possible score, on the lawyer rating service Avvo.com. Ms. Boudreaux’s partner Kevin Hunter is an accomplished oral advocate. He participated in national moot court competitions while in law school. Mr. Hunter uses those skills as head of the appellate division of Boudreaux | Hunter & Associates, L.L.C.

The Standard Possession Order

At one time, individual judges set the terms and conditions of visitation in each case. Accordingly, visitation schedules could and did differ depending on which judge rendered the orders. Recognizing the need for uniform visitation rules, a number of Texas lawyers, judges, academics and state representatives gathered together to draft the Standard Possession Order. Nevertheless, a court has the right to tinker with the Standard Possession Order if the court finds it “unworkable or inappropriate.”

Visitation Under the Standard Possession Order

The Standard Possession Order covers visitation according to four general rules. They are the weekly rules, the holiday/parent’s day rules, visitation during the summer and when parents live more than 100 miles apart.

Weekly Rules for Visitation

The noncustodial parent has visitation with the children on the first, the third and (when there is one) the fifth weekend of every month. Visitation takes place from 6:00 p.m. on Friday and lasts until 6:00 p.m. on Sunday.

During the school year, the noncustodial parent also has visitation from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Thursday evenings. If the noncustodial parent elects “expanded” standard visitation, during the school year weekend visitation can begin as early as Friday when school lets out and ends Monday morning by returning the child to school.

If a noncustodial parent elects “expanded” for Thursdays, during the school year visitation begins when school lets out and ends Friday morning by returning the child to school.

Holiday, Parent’s Day and Birthday Provisions

Visitation during holidays, on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day and on a child’s birthday supersede the weekly rules. This chart shows visitation periods for default and expanded visitation when parents live 100 miles or less from each other:

Holiday Default Expanded
Spring Break In even-numbered years, from 6:00 p.m. of the day school lets out for spring break to 6:00 p.m. on the day before school resumes. In even-numbered years, from when school lets out for spring break to 6:00 p.m. on the day before school resumes.
Mother’s Day Weekend From 6:00 p.m. Friday to 6:00 p.m. Sunday. When school lets out on Friday to when school begins on Monday.
Father’s Day Weekend From 6:00 p.m. Friday to 6:00 p.m. Sunday. From 6:00 p.m. Friday to 8:00 a.m. Monday.
Summer Vacation Notice provisions, but 30 days of the summer.
Thanksgiving In odd-numbered years, from 6:00 p.m. of the day school lets out for Thanksgiving to 6:00 p.m. on the day before school resumes. In odd-numbered years, from when school lets out for Thanksgiving to 6:00 p.m. on the day before school resumes.
Christmas In even-numbered years, from 6:00 p.m. of the day school lets out for Christmas vacation to noon December 28.

In odd-numbered years, from noon December 28 to 6:00 p.m. on the day before school resumes.

In even-numbered years, from when school lets out lets out for Christmas vacation to noon December 28.

In odd-numbered years, from noon December 28 to 6:00 p.m. on the day before school resumes.

Birthdays If not entitled to visitation under the other rules, on the child’s birthday from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

When parents live more than 100 miles apart, the rules change a little bit. The noncustodial parent:

  • may pick the regular weekly schedule or opt for one weekend of that parent’s choice each month.
  • has visitation for Spring Break every year rather than only in even-numbered years.
  • Has 42 days in the summer instead of 30.
  • Does not have any Thursday, during school, visitation.

Clearly, visitation is a complicated topic. For assistance from the experienced child custody attorneys at Boudreaux | Hunter & Associates, L.L.C., please call (713) 333-4430 or visit us online to schedule a consultation.

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