Parenting Schedules in Texas
Understanding Parenting Schedules in Texas
When sharing custody of children, parents’ biggest concern often revolves around the parenting schedule and how often they will see their kids. While parenting schedules vary based on family and situation, there are a few common possession schedules that are often set by the court.
Standard Possession Orders
Currently, the standard possession order under the Texas Family Code dictates that non-primary parents who live within 100 miles of their children have the right to possession on the first, third, and fifth weekends of every month, on Thursday evenings during the school year, on alternating holidays, and for an extended period of time (up to 30 days) during summer vacation. For cases filed on or after Sept. 1, 2021, non-primary parents who reside within 50 miles of their children may elect to have possession pursuant to the expanded provisions of the standard possession order, which allows non-primary parents to have possession of their children for 47% of the time.
If the parents live farther than 100 miles apart, the weekend schedule may be reduced to one weekend per month, the midweek visit is canceled, the summer break is extended to 42 days, and a spring break is added.
If the child’s safety is a concern, a judge can also issue a supervised possession order that requires visits with non-custodial parents to be supervised by a family member or other third party.
While the standard possession schedule is the most popular parenting schedule, it is not necessarily the right schedule for parents who have unique job hours or who have historically shared equal parenting time and responsibilities. A Goranson Bain Ausley attorney can help you decide if the standard possession order will work for you or if you need to come up with a customized plan.
Expanded Standard Possession Order
An expanded standard possession order in Texas is a schedule that is set by a judge and grants the non-primary parent two extra overnights with the child each week during the school year. The non-primary parent may request the expanded visitation schedule in Texas, which is typically granted unless the judge believes that the child’s age, the distance between the parties, or another factor makes this schedule unworkable or not in the child’s best interest.
The Texas expanded standard possession order varies from the standard order in the following ways:
- Weekend periods of possession begin when the child is released from school on Friday and end when the child returns to school on Monday.
- The midweek possession begins when the child is released from school Thursday and ends when the child returns to school on Friday.
- Holiday periods of possession begin when the child’s school is released for the holiday.
Occasionally, a judge will grant parents equal periods of possession of their children. Most often, parents reach an agreement to exercise visitation with their children pursuant to a 50/50 possession schedule; however, a judge may also set one if a family has already shown success in splitting possession equally. Generally, parents are required to live within a smaller geographic region, such as the same school district, for a 50/50 schedule to be workable.
Texas courts have historically seen 50/50 possession as more beneficial for parents than for children, so these schedules tend to be less popular. The likelihood of receiving a 50/50 custody schedule in Texas after a contested court hearing varies depending on your court, judge, and circumstances.
There are many ways to construct an equal possession schedule between parents, and a Goranson Bain Ausley attorney can help you structure equal time with your children in a way that works best for your family.
Cases Involving Children Younger Than Three
Children younger than 3 need more hands-on care than older children, so judges will often set a possession and access schedule designed specifically for young children to reflect this need. A judge will take the following circumstances into consideration:
- Both parents’ caretaking history
- How the child copes with separation from each parent
- Each parent’s willingness and ability to take care of the child
- The child’s physical, medical, behavioral, and developmental needs
- The condition of each parent’s physical, medical, emotional, economic, and social health
- The presence of siblings during periods of possession
- The proximity of the parents’ homes
Get Help From a Goranson Bain Ausley Attorney
At Goranson Bain Ausley, we want our clients to find a parenting schedule that is right for their family, whether that’s a standard possession schedule, a 50/50 possession schedule, or expanded custody. Texas attorneys at Goranson Bain Ausley are here to help support you with clear legal advice and a solution-oriented approach to child custody cases that can help you to arrive at the best possible arrangement for your family. Contact us for a consultation at our office in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Granbury, or Plano today.