Possession and Access Orders
A divorce or separation of two partners not only has an impact on the individuals involved but also on their children and how they grow up. Issues surrounding your child’s legal and physical custody become highly contentious. It is generally believed that a child should have regular access to both parents and will order visitation if it is in the child’s interest. The court has a fair amount of power to decide what is in the child’s best interests.
Three options for child custody or conservatorship are available in Texas: joint, sole, and third-party custody. In most cases, parents are awarded joint legal custody unless there is a specific reason for not granting it.
You may also be wondering, “What are child visitation rights?” Child visitation is termed “possession and access” or “parenting time” in Texas. Details pertaining to possession and access are usually included in any divorce decree the courts make. These are called Standard Possession Orders (SPOs). More details about this can be found in later sections.
To determine child custody and visitation, a suit called a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR) may be filed when the parents were never married and are now separated.
Consider contacting an experienced, locally-based family law firm for advice and a child custody and visitation overview if you need assistance with custody orders or SAPCRs.
Let’s examine Standard Possession Orders (S.P.O) first and then examine Suits Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR).
How Do Standard Possession Orders Work?
A possession order stipulates the times that a parent has the right to spend with their minor child.
There are several different kinds of possession orders in Texas:
- Standard Possession Orders
- Modified Possession Orders
- Possession Orders for a Child Under Three
- Supervised Possession Orders
Standard Possession Order (SPO)
The SPO is presumed by the law to be in the best interests of all children above three.
As long as both parents agree about arrangements regarding the physical custody of the child, it is assumed that this is in the child’s best interests.
However, what happens when the parents disagree on possession? Then, the SPO is determined based on the distance the parents live from one another.
When parents live within 50 miles of one another
The noncustodial parent has the right to meet the child:
- Between 6 and 8 PM every Thursday.
- Between 6 PM on Friday afternoon and 6 PM the following Sunday for each month’s first, third, and fifth weekends.
- Every alternate year between 6 PM on the last day of school before Spring Break occurs and ending at 6:00 PM the day before school resumes.
- Every alternate year for the holidays.
As of September 1, 2021, the non-primary parent may opt for expanded visitation time. You may contact an attorney to understand the terms set forth by the new law enacted in 2021.
When parents live between 50 and 100 miles from one another
The noncustodial parent has the right to physical custody:
- On the 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekends of the month.
- Thursday evenings during the school year.
- Alternating holidays.
- 30 days during summer vacation.
When parents live more than 100 miles from one another
In this instance, the schedules are adjusted as follows:
- The weekend schedule could be reduced to one weekend per month (although this is not mandatory).
- The mid-week visit is dispensed with.
- Holidays are the same and still alternate.
- The noncustodial parent has the child for 42 days during summer vacation and every spring break.
What Is a Modified Possession Order?
If the parents wish to change the SPO to something more in line with their everyday needs, they can present their own parenting plan for court approval. If the judge finds that the plan is acceptable and in the child’s best interests, the judge will approve the order.
Lawyers from Family Court Direct can assist you in drafting your customized possession order.
The most common modified possession orders include:
- A 50/50 arrangement – each parent has the child for 50 percent of the time.
- 2-2-3 – one parent has the child Monday and Tuesday, the other has the child on Wednesday and Thursday, and the parents alternate every Friday to Sunday.
- Week On/Week Off – Parents have the kid for alternate weeks.
If you are considering a modified possession order, consider consulting an experienced family lawyer.
What Is a Supervised Possession Order?
A court will issue a supervised possession order when the court fears the potential actions of the noncustodial parent and wishes to safeguard the safety and security of the child. These orders are often made after incidents of child abuse or domestic violence.
The order will provide for an agency, a neutral third party, or a family member to supervise parenting time.
How Does SAPCR Work?
A SAPCR case asks a judge to make custody, visitation, medical, dental, and child support orders for a child. It is a legal action and should comply with the specific legal process requirements.
Below are a few of the most frequently asked questions about a SAPCR in Texas.
Can I File My SAPCR Case in Texas?
The Texan judge will have jurisdiction in your case when:
- Your child has been living in Texas for the last 6 months
- Your child has been out of Texas for less than 6 months, and Texas was the child’s home state.
Do I Have to Inform the Other Parent About Filing a SAPCR Case?
Yes, you do. This is known as legal notice.
What if the Other Parent Cannot Be Found?
If you can prove to the court that you made a genuine concerted effort to find the other parent but failed, the court may instruct you to publish a public notice in a local newspaper of your intention of filing a SAPCR.
What if the Other Parent Is in Prison?
You are required to serve notice on the other parent, even if they are in prison.
We Can Help You With Your Child’s Visitation Court Order
If you need answers to questions like “How to get custody and visitation orders?” in Texas, our network of empathic lawyers are here to assist you!
You may be navigating the child custody procedure, responding to a custody order, or having other legal needs which require representation in family court.
Asking for custody and visitation and obtaining a custody order can be a complex and emotional process. Therefore, you may explore working with an experienced family law attorney who can guide you through the process and advocate for your rights and interests.
Contact us to schedule an evaluation today!