When parents separate, they commonly can agree on which parents the children will primarily reside with. However, a common area of disagreement is the schedule for vistation for the parent with whom the children do not reside. Today's blog post will discuss standard visitation rights in Texas for the non-custodial parent.
THE MYTH OF "SPLIT CUSTODY"
Often, separated parents wish to have the children for equal amounts of time, proposing to each other and to the Court that the children spend alternating calendar weeks with each parent. Typically, Judges do not approve such agreements or proposals, reasoning that alternating weeks is very difficult because of the frequency of exchanges, lack of consistency in daily living habits and routines, and follow-up and assistance with school work.
STANDARD POSSESSION ORDER
Texas law presumes that the non-custodial parent's visitation rights should be governed by the "Standard Possession Order" contained in Chapter 153 of the Texas Family Code. Pursuant to the Standard Possession Order, the parents may have possession of the children at all times mutually agreed. This means that the parents can, by agreement ignore the detailed provisions of the Standard Possession Order and simply operate by a convenient, evolving schedule that accommodates the parents scheules and the children's activities. If the parents cannot agree, the Standard Possession Order contains elaborate provisions for possession for the non-custodial parent. If the custodial parent fails to surrender the children to the non-custodial parent at the times indicated in the order, or the non-custodial parent fails to return the children to the custodial parent, the Court can hold the offending parent in contempt of court and impose a jail sentence for the contempt.
The Standard Possession Order was created after extensive research and comment by professional educators, psychologists, and others that fully understand the emotional and pscyological development and needs of children. The Standard Possession Order works fairly well for parents of children between the ages of 5 and 15 whose parents have a typical Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. work schedule and who live relatively close to each other.
While the Standard Possession Order contains detailed provisions on many issues, the essense of the visitation is: (1) first, third and fifth weekends of each month; (2) Thursday evenings each week during the school year; (3) alternating Spring Break and Thanksgiving vacations; (4) split Christmas holidays; and (5) 30 days during each summer.
If you are separated from the other parent of your children, or are anticipating becoming separated, you should seek competent legal advice to ensure that your visitation rights are protected. Christiansen Law Firm assists parents as they go through the custody and visitation process. The family law attorneys of Christiansen Law Firm have extensive experience in handling custody and visitation matters, having represented more than a thousand individuals in family law matters. Contact the offices of Christiansen Law Firm in Houston or San Antonio for additional information.