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Understanding the Standard Possession Order

The Standard Possession Order was developed by the Texas legislature in 1995. It was designed to bring some standardization to child custody and visitation rights and to allow both parents to have similar access to, and possession of, a child. The Standard Possession Order is legally presumed to be in the child’s best interests unless proven otherwise. The provisions of the Standard Possession Order apply whenever parents cannot agree on possession of a child. Of course, parents can decide to follow a different custody & visitation schedule if they can mutually agree on one.

There are two terms you need to become familiar with, in order to understand the Standard Possession Order. The first term is “primary conservator.” The primary conservator is the person with the right to determine the residence of the child. This person also has the right to receive (and give receipt for) child support. The “nonprimary conservator” is the person who does not have the right to establish the primary residence of the child, or receive child support. Let’s look at some of the key provisions of the order.

The first provision is that the non-primary conservator shall have possession of the child on the first, third, and fifth weekend per month. The possession shall begin at this person’s option either (a) immediately upon release from school or (b) at 6:00 p.m. The possession shall end either at (a) 6:00 p.m. Sunday or (b) at the time school begins on Monday. The weekend possession can also be extended by holiday.

The second provision says that the nonprimary conservator shall have possession of the child on each Thursday of the month during the school year. The nonprimary conservator has the choice of picking up the child from school, or picking up the child at 6:00 p.m. He also has the choice to return the child at 8:00 p.m. on Thursday night, or return the child to school on Friday morning. Holidays – are split equally (in a 50-50 fashion) between conservators of the child, rotating years.

Spring Break is also split between parents (alternating years), unless the nonprimary lives 100 miles or greater away from the primary. In that situation, the nonprimary gets every Spring Break. The nonprimary conservator gets 30 days of child custody in the summer, unless he lives greater than 100 miles away from the primary. In that case, the nonprimary gets 42 days of child custody during summer vacation.

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