What Is a Visitation Schedule in Texas?

Child custody and a visitation schedule in Texas can be overwhelming and emotionally challenging for parents. However, understanding the legal framework and the various types of visitation schedules in Texas can help parents make informed decisions that prioritize their child’s interests and ensure a smoother transition for everyone involved.

Co-parents spending time with their child.

If you have any questions regarding your visitation schedule with your family, we are here to help you. The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC is not just a legal resource; we are a partner in your journey to safeguard your child’s future. Trust us to guide you through the legal process and work tirelessly to achieve a positive outcome for you and your family. Call us today at 832-471-6904, and let’s embark on this path together, ensuring a brighter and more stable future for you and your loved ones.

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding Texas visitation schedules involves familiarizing oneself with the terms “possession” and “access”.
  • Visitation schedules are established through a Standard Possession Order (SPO), Extended Standard Possession Order (ESPO), or Custom Schedule.
  • Legal assistance can be sought to ensure compliance with state regulations, create/modify an appropriate visitation schedule, and prioritize the child’s welfare.

Understanding Texas Visitation Schedules

In Texas, a visitation schedule is a court order that outlines when each parent is entitled to spend time with their child, maintaining a healthy parent-child relationship. There are various possession orders in the Texas legal system, including:

  • Standard possession
  • Custom orders
  • 50/50 possession
  • Step-up parenting plans

All of these play a critical role in a child’s life. Grasping how a child’s age influences custody schedules can assist parents in making knowledgeable decisions. The ultimate goal is to prioritize the child’s welfare and establish an appropriate possession schedule.

Child Support Division of the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) in Texas can provide support in obtaining:

  • Custody
  • Visitation
  • Child support
  • Medical and dental support orders

Given this, gaining a thorough understanding of the different elements of Texas visitation schedules, including the unique terminology, becomes crucial.

Possession and Access Terminology

In Texas, the terms “possession” and “access” are used instead of “physical custody” and “visitation” when describing the time each parent spends with their child. Possession refers to physically seeing the child and determining their whereabouts, while access entails interacting with the child via various communication methods, such as telephone, text, or social media. This allows the other parent to stay involved in the child’s life, participate in extracurricular activities, and have access to important records.

The “Under-Three Provision” in Texas visitation schedules is particularly noteworthy, as it allows non-custodial parents to have increased visits with children under the age of three, which may also impact the amount they pay child support. Grasping the specific terms used in possession and access schedules helps parents effectively navigate through the legal intricacies of child custody in Texas.

Types of Visitation Schedules in Texas

Visitation schedules in Texas are generally established through a Standard Possession Order (SPO), Extended Standard Possession Order (ESPO), or a Custom Visitation Schedule. These schedules help create a consistent parenting arrangement for both parents and the child.

The Standard Possession Order (SPO) is a custody arrangement where the non-custodial parent has possession of the child for thirty days during the summer, and the custodial parent is granted one weekend with the child during this period. The Extended Standard Possession Order (ESPO), on the other hand, allows the non-custodial parent to have possession of the child for a period exceeding 30 days during summer. In cases where parents cannot agree on a custom schedule, a judge may depart from the Standard Possession Order due to the child’s age, distance between the parents, or if the parents have consented to an alternate arrangement.

A Custom Visitation Schedule is a custody arrangement tailored to meet the specific needs of the family, which may include various visitation times, holidays, and special occasions. No matter the type of visitation schedule, it’s imperative to thoroughly read and comprehend the order for compliance and to safeguard the child’s welfare. If you ever have questions regarding court-ordered visitation, call The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC and our attorneys will help you.

Creating a Custom Visitation Schedule

A customized visitation schedule is designed to accommodate the unique needs and circumstances of the family, providing a more flexible and personalized approach to child custody arrangements. Some commonly used custody schedules include the 4-3 arrangement and the 2-2-5-5 arrangement, which can be tailored to meet the family’s specific requirements and create a suitable visitation schedule.

Parents can collaborate to deviate from any court-mandated parenting schedule and develop a custom possession and access schedule that prioritizes their child’s interests. Tools like the Custody X Change online app can help generate a calendar that combines plans for special circumstances with customary schedules.

Understanding the Standard Possession Order (SPO)

The Texas Standard Possession Order (SPO) includes the following visitation schedule if the parents live within 100 miles of each other:

  • The non-custodial parent is granted possession of the child on the 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekends of every month.
  • Thursday evenings during the school year.
  • Alternating holidays.
  • An extended period (30 days) during summer vacation.

When parents live more than 100 miles apart, the weekend schedule may be reduced to one weekend per month, with no mid-week visit, unchanged holidays, and the non-custodial parent having the child for a longer period (42 days) during summer vacation and every spring break.

The SPO also accounts for the child’s birthday, allowing the non-custodial parent to collect the child for two hours between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Understanding the specific provisions of the SPO is necessary to maintain compliance and guard the child’s welfare.

Extended Standard Possession Order (ESPO)

The Extended Standard Possession Order (ESPO) allows non-custodial parents additional visitation time with their child. Under an ESPO, the non-custodial parent has:

  • Full custody of the child on the first, third, and fifth weekends of the month, commencing on Thursday at either the time school is dismissed or 6:00 p.m., and ending when school resumes on Monday morning.
  • Overnight visitation every Thursday.
  • On the weeks they do not have weekend visitation, they will have overnight visits on Thursdays as well.

This extended child visitation schedule can provide additional opportunities for the non-custodial parent to maintain a strong parent-child relationship, ensuring the child’s interests are met and fostering a healthy family dynamic.

Special Considerations for Young Children

For children under the age of three, Texas visitation schedules include the “Under-Three Provision,” which is a possession and access schedule specifically tailored for this age group. Young children need consistent routines and caregiving practices to foster a sense of safety and security.

When determining the possession and access schedule for children under three, the Texas court considers factors such as:

  • the child’s interests
  • age and developmental needs
  • the parent’s ability to care for the child
  • any history of domestic violence or abuse

Moreover, the court may also take into account any agreements reached by the parents regarding the schedule.

The standard possession order for children in Texas begins when the child turns three years of age. Until then, the “Under-Three Provision” ensures that the visitation schedule meets the unique developmental needs of younger children, providing a stable and nurturing environment for their growth.

Holidays and Special Occasions

Holidays and special occasions are often factored into visitation schedules, ensuring that both parents have an opportunity to celebrate with their child. In Texas, weekday and weekend hours may be extended if a public holiday falls on either Friday or Monday. Such an event can affect time schedules. Specific holidays outlined in the visitation schedule include Thanksgiving, Christmas, and spring break, with further arrangements possible for other occasions.

A thoughtfully designed holiday schedule ensures that the child can enjoy quality time with both parents during these special moments, fostering a strong bond and promoting a positive co-parenting relationship.

Adjusting Visitation Schedules as Children Grow

Children’s needs and abilities evolve as they grow, necessitating suitable adaptations to visitation schedules. This includes taking into account the child’s emotional, physical, and social development, as well as age-appropriate activities, routines, and developmental milestones based on the child’s age. It is also essential to consider special occasions, such as a child’s birthday, when planning visitation schedules.

In some cases, material and substantial changes may necessitate a modification of child custody in Texas, such as alterations in the child’s requirements or the parents’ circumstances, including a parent relocating or a parent’s lifestyle change that may adversely affect the child.

Adapting visitation schedules to a child’s growth helps parents prioritize their child’s welfare and provide support throughout their child’s life and development.

Co-Parenting Challenges

Co-parenting involves both parents collaborating to raise their children, with a focus on maintaining a healthy parent-child relationship. Dealing with co-parenting challenges in Texas can be effectively managed by implementing strategies such as:

  • Maintaining open and respectful communication
  • Establishing consistent co-parenting guidelines
  • Taking steps to ensure that the co-parenting arrangement is a successful and positive experience for the family.

Additionally, employing tools like co-parenting calendars and seeking professional assistance when necessary can help address any potential challenges and ensure that the interests of the children remain at the forefront of decision-making.

Legal Support for Visitation Schedule Matters

It becomes essential to seek legal support in visitation schedule matters to comply with state regulations, safeguard the child’s welfare, and uphold visitation rights. A Houston child custody lawyer from The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC can assist in creating an appropriate child custody schedule or modifying an existing one.

How The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC Can Help You

The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC offers realistic and straightforward guidance, confidential representation, and a dedication to achieving the optimal outcome for their clients. Focusing on family law, divorce, child custody, criminal defense, and other related matters, the firm’s experienced attorneys boast impressive records of courtroom success and valuable insight as a former prosecutor.

Having been awarded the Best Family Law Firm for 2022 in Sugarland and receiving positive feedback from clients, The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC is well-equipped to provide legal guidance and support for visitation schedule matters. To discuss your case, call the firm at 832-471-6904.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the standard visitation schedule in Texas?

Judges generally award the standard possession order in Texas, which gives noncustodial parents the first, third, and fifth weekends of a month plus one weekly Thursday night visit. Distance between the parents may affect this schedule.

What is the difference between possession and access in Texas?

In Texas, possession refers to physically seeing the child and determining their whereabouts, while access entails interacting with the child through various communication methods.

Can parents come to a consensus regarding an alternate possession schedule?

Yes, parents can come to a consensus regarding an alternate possession schedule by working together to create a schedule that is in the interests of their child.