Expanded Possession Order in Texas Family Court
The Texas Family Code has created a possession schedule for the non-possessory. Remember, there is no “primary custody” in Texas. We have three sections of the law related to children:
- Conservatorship, which is decision making ability for the child;
- Possession and access which states who can see the child and when; and
- Child support.
Here the Expanded Standard Possession Order falls under the “possession and access” block of children’s issues.
The Expanded Standard Possession Order, often referred to as an E.S.P.O., lays out the time a non-possessory parent can see the child when the child and non-possessory conservator live less than 50 miles from each other. This means the S.P.O. is the schedule for the parent who does not get to choose the child’s primary residence (meaning where the child is going to live) and also for the parent paying child support, typically.
If you have questions regarding an Expanded Standard Possession Order, contact Hunt Law Firm, PLLC today.
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Before September 1, 2021, if a parent wanted an Expanded Standard Possession Order and asked for it, that parent could get it (as long as it was in the Best Interest of the Child). As of September 1, 2021, the Legislature changed the Texas Family Code to say that a non-possessory parent who lives less than 50 miles from the child is presumed to get the Expanded Standard Possession Order.
There are two (and sometimes three) different types of Standard Possession Orders, depending on how far the non-possessory parent lives from the child.
- Expanded Standard Possession Order for a non-possessory parent who lives less than 50 miles from the child;
- Standard Possession Order for a non-possessory parent who lives in between 50 - 100 miles from the child; and
- Standard Possession Order for a non-possessory parent who lives more than 100 miles from the child.
Weekends: The non-possessory parent gets to see the child on the first, third and fifth weekends of the month beginning at the time school is dismissed Friday and ending at the time school resumes on the following Monday.
Monday and Friday Holidays: If there is a federal holiday or teacher in-service day during the school year, the non-possessory parent gets that extra day. For example, if there is a Friday holiday during the school year, the non-possessory parent’s time starts at the time school is dismissed on Thursday. If there is a Monday holiday during the school year, the non-possessory parent’s time ends at the time school resumes on Tuesday. What this effectively does is extend the weekend.
Thursday: The non-possessory parent also gets the child from the time school gets dismissed on Thursday to the time school resumes on Friday, every Thursday during the school year. Note that this does not include the summertime. Effectively what this does is extend the first, third and fifth weekend so the non-possessory conservator has Thursday night, Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday night.
Spring Break: During the school year, spring break or spring vacation rotates yearly between the possessory and non-possessory parent. The non-possessory parent has spring break every even-numbered year and the possessory parent has spring break every odd-numbered year. These periods of possession begin and end at 6:00 p.m. each year.
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