Understanding a Standard Possession Order

As a Texas parent contemplating a divorce, you need to be aware of the laws surrounding custody and visitation of your children after your divorce. Consequently, you should familiarize yourself with two important terms: standard possessory order and possessory conservator. The former refers to the default parenting schedule in Texas; the latter refers to your children’s noncustodial parent.

Per the Texas Family Code, a Standard Possession Order constitutes the default visitation arrangement in all Texas divorces where children are involved. This SPO contains a detailed parenting time schedule setting forth not only exactly when you and your ex-spouse will have your children during the year, but also how you will go about exchanging them.

Less than 100 miles apart

If you and your ex-spouse will live within 100 miles of each other after your divorce, the SPO gives the children to the possessory conservator during the following times and under the following conditions:

  • From 6 p.m. Friday to 6 p.m. Sunday on the first, third and fifth weekends of each month
  • From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. every Thursday during the school year
  • Pick-up and return by the receiving parent of your children from and to the other parent’s home or another mutually agreed upon location 
  • Return to the other parent by the receiving parent of all clothing and other items the children bring with them

Over 100 miles apart

If you and your ex-spouse will live more than 100 miles from each other after your divorce, the SPO gives the children to the possessory conservator during the following times and under the following conditions:

  • From 6 p.m. on Friday to 6 p.m. on Sunday one weekend each month
  • Extended time during the children’s summer and spring breaks
  • Choice by the receiving parent of which weekend, but (s)he must give the other parent at least 14 days’ prior notice via letter, email or phone

Keep in mind that a Standard Possession Order is the default parenting plan if you and your spouse cannot agree on a plan of your own.

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