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If you have children and are filing for divorce, custody and visitation are two issues you and your spouse will have to work through. Texas courts use the terms “possession” and “access” to refer to visitation and custody matters. “Possession” of your child refers to any time you can see your child in person, while “access” refers to the time you interact with your child by phone, email, or text message. During a divorce, most visitation orders will include either a standard possession order (SPO), an expanded standard possession order (E-SPO), or an arrangement both spouses come up with on their own. In this blog, our Katy divorce attorney explains the difference between SPOs, E-SPOs, custom orders.
Standard Possession Orders
The main purpose of a standard possession order is to officially set each parent’s visitation and custody schedule and to ensure that it is legally binding. An SPO is sometimes explained as the “default” order in Texas. The SPO, outlined in the Texas Family Code, states where the exchange of the child will take place, where he or she will spend the holidays, and any special rules for situations where the parents live more than 100 miles apart. In a typical SPO, the child will spend the first, third, and fifth weekend of each month, plus one weekday evening with the noncustodial parent during the regular school year.
Texas Expanded Standard Possession Order
An expanded standard possession order provides the non-custodial parent with additional time with their child. The noncustodial parent gets an extra overnight visit on Thursdays and does not need to return possession of the child to the custodial parent during the school year until the Monday following his or her regular weekend possession.
An expanded standard possession order may be chosen at the election of the noncustodial parent. The E-SPO is very similar to a standard SPO, with just a few adjustments – the non-custodial parent’s time on weekdays and weekends is changed to ensure that the time the non-custodial parent has with the child is extended to meet the child’s needs.
Under Texas Law, SPOs and E-SPOs are usually used as a default option for spouses who cannot or will not agree to their own arrangement. Because of this, spouses often feel as though these orders rely on the stereotype that one parent excels in nurturing while the other is responsible for being the breadwinner. Because this isn’t a situation that applies to all spouses, many opt for arranging their own custom custody and visitation order. Having a custom arrangement can better accommodate parents’ work schedules, distance between the parents, and the needs of the child.