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 parents are often awarded.
Standard Possession Schedules
Currently, the Texas Family Code sets a standard possession order as follows: 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 September 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 (discussed in further detail below) which allows non-primary parents to have possession of their children for approximately 47% of the time.
If the parents live further 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 a 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 a Standard Possession Schedule is right for you, or if you need to come up with a customized plan.
Expanded Standard Possession Order
An expanded possession schedule is awarded by a judge and grants the nonprimary parent two extra overnights with the child each week during the school year. The non-primary parent may elect the expanded schedule, which is granted unless the judge believes that the child’s age, distance between the parties, or another factor makes this schedule unworkable or not in the child’s best interest.
The 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 ends 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 with 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 award one if a family has already shown success of 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 they tend to be less popular. The likelihood of receiving a 50/50 possession schedule after a contested court hearing varies depending on your court, judge, and circumstances.
There are various 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.
Children Under Three
Children under three need more hands-on care than children of other ages. Therefore, judges will often award a possession and access schedule designed specifically for young children that reflect this need. A judge will take the following circumstances, in addition to others, 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
Work with a Goranson Bain Ausley Attorney
At Goranson Bain Ausley, we want our clients to find a parenting schedule that is right for their family. Our trusted Austin, Plano and Dallas based attorneys are here to help support you with clear legal advice while also helping facilitate a solution-oriented approach that will help you arrive at the best possible custody arrangement for your family. Contact us today.