The legal right of a non-custodial parent to spend time with his or her children and to now their whereabouts are commonly referred to as “access and visitation” or “possession.” As McKinney family lawyers, we are experienced in helping our clients to understand their parental rights and duties. 

In Texas, the law presumes that parents will be “joint managing conservators,” meaning that they will share parental rights and duties. As long as it is in the best interests of the child, the family court will grant these rights and duties to both parents following a divorce. 

The starting point, or presumption, for establishing parental rights and duties is the Standard Possession Order (SPO). For parents who live within 100 miles of each other, the SPO provides that the noncustodial parent has visitation:

  • The first, third and fifth weekends of every month
  • Thursday evenings of each week
  • Alternating holidays (such as Thanksgiving every other year)
  • An extended period of time (30 days) during the summer vacation

For parents who live more than 100 miles apart:

  • The weekend schedule may be the same or reduced to one weekend per month;
  • There is no mid-week visitation
  • The holiday schedule remains the same (alternating holidays)
  • The noncustodial parent has the children every spring break and for a longer extended period (42 days) in the summer

Can the Court Modify the SPO?

The court can modify the SPO based on the child’s best interest. Texas law contains guidelines to help judges make their decision, including the following considerations:

  • The desires of the child
  • The child’s emotional and physical needs, present and future
  • The parenting abilities of the individuals seeking custody
  • The programs available to assist parents in promoting the best interests of the child
  • The plans for the child
  • The stability of the home
  • The acts or omissions of the parent, which may indicate the suitability of the existing parent-child relationship.

Can We Modify the SPO?

You and ex-spouse may decide that the Standard Possession Order is unworkable or inappropriate for your family.  A “Modified Possession Order” is anything different from the SPO, and can be designed to meet the specific needs of your family.   

Let Our McKinney Family Lawyers Help You

If you need assistance with a child access or visitation matter, including the preparation of a Modified Possession Order, we welcome you to contact the Nordhaus & Nordhaus at (214) 726-1450 or by email for a free consultation.