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OBERHEIDEN LAW GROUP, PLLC
5710 LBJ, Suite 120 | Dallas, TX 75240

Dallas Child Custody Attorney


In Texas, the rights of parents are usually resolved by the intervention of the Courts. Whether as part of a Divorce or Modification action or a Suit Affecting the Parent Child Relationship (“SAPCR”), each will tend to be highly contested as between the parents. The reason is simple. When both parents love their children and both parents want to secure their time with them, emotions can quickly overshadow the best interests of the children.
  • Texas Child Custody Laws
    Regarding child custody, parents generally argue over two things: first, the amount of possession time for each parent; second, the amount of child support one parent will receive from the other. While the answer will change depending on the specific facts of each case, Texas courts use one overriding and uniform test to rule on the best outcome for each family. This overriding test is: what is in the child’s (or children’s) best interest.

    Accordingly, the child's best interest is the court's main consideration in determining questions of managing conservatorship, possession, or access to a child. In this manner, Texas judges can make determinations that do not necessarily take an individual parent’s wishes. Specifically, in applying the best interests of the child test, Texas courts generally consider nine factors, including:

    A.

    The child's desires (if child is of a certain age);
    B.
    The child's emotional and physical needs in the present and in the future;
    C.
    Any emotional or physical danger that the child is presently being subjected to or may possibly be subjected to in the future;
    D.
    The parental abilities of the individuals seeking custody;
    E.
    Whether any programs are available to assist these individuals to promote the child's best interest;
    F.
    The plans for the child by these individuals or by an agency seeking custody;
    G.
    The stability of the home or proposed placement;
    H.
    The parent's acts or omissions that may indicate that the existing parent-child relationship is not a proper one; and,
    I.
    Any excuses for the parents' acts or omissions.

    The application of these factors will vary from case to case. For example, the child’s desires will not be considered by a judge unless the child is mature enough to provide the court with reliable or reasoned preferences.
  • Possession & Visitation Rights
    To provide uniformity across possession cases, Texas courts have created several possession models which serve to address the facts in the majority of cases. Two examples are the “Standard Possession Order” and the “Expanded Possession Order.”

    A.

    STANDARD POSSESSION ORDER. In a great number of cases, the divorcing parties will agree to use the Standard Possession Order. Nonetheless, the Standard Possession Order is not a one-size-fits-all document. In many cases, and with the help of an attorney, the parties may agree to a Possession Order that will take into consideration the parent’s (as well as the child’s) schedule. In these kinds of cases, the Standard Possession Order is a good starting point. The full text of the Standard Possession Order is:

    “The Court finds that the following provisions of this Standard Possession Order are intended to and do comply with the requirements of Texas Family Code sections 153.311 through 153.317. IT IS ORDERED that each conservator shall comply with all terms and conditions of this Standard Possession Order. IT IS ORDERED that this Standard Possession Order is effective immediately and applies to all periods of possession occurring on and after the date the Court signs this Standard Possession Order. IT IS, THEREFORE, ORDERED:

    (a) Definitions

    1.

    In this Standard Possession Order "school" means the primary or secondary school in which the child is enrolled or, if the child is not enrolled in a primary or secondary school, the public school district in which the child primarily resides.

    2.

    In this Standard Possession Order "child" includes each child, whether one or more, who is a subject of this suit while that child is under the age of eighteen years and not otherwise emancipated.

    (b)

    Mutual Agreement or Specified Terms for Possession
    IT IS ORDERED that the conservators shall have possession of the child at times mutually agreed to in advance by the parties, and, in the absence of mutual agreement, it is ORDERED that the conservators shall have possession of the child under the specified terms set out in this Standard Possession Order.

    (c)

    Parents Who Reside 100 Miles or Less Apart
    Except as otherwise explicitly provided in this Standard Possession Order, when Non-Custodial Parent resides 100 miles or less from the primary residence of the child, Non-Custodial Parent shall have the right to possession of the child as follows:

    1.

    Weekends -

    On weekends that occur during the regular school term, beginning at 6:00 p.m., on the first, third, and fifth Friday of each month and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the following Sunday.

    On weekends that do not occur during the regular school term, beginning at 6:00 p.m., on the first, third, and fifth Friday of each month and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the following Sunday.

    2.

    Weekend Possession Extended by a Holiday –

    Except as otherwise explicitly provided in this Standard Possession Order, if a weekend period of possession by Non-Custodial Parent begins on a Friday that is a student holiday or teacher in-service day during the regular school term, as determined by the school in which the child is enrolled, or a federal, state, or local holiday during the summer months when school is not in session, or if the period ends on or is immediately followed by a Monday that is such a holiday, that weekend period of possession shall begin at 6:00 p.m. on the Thursday immediately preceding the Friday holiday, student holiday or teacher in-service day or end at 6:00 p.m. on that Monday holiday, student holiday or teacher in-service day, as applicable.

    3.

    Thursdays –

    On Thursday of each week during the regular school term, beginning at 6:00 p.m. and ending at 8:00 p.m.

    4.

    Spring Break in Even-Numbered Years –

    In even-numbered years, beginning at 6:00 p.m. on the day the child is dismissed from school for the school's spring vacation and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the day before school resumes after that vacation.

    5.

    Extended Summer Possession by Non-Custodial Parent -

    With Written Notice by April 1 - If Non-Custodial Parent gives Custodial Parent written notice by April 1 of a year specifying an extended period or periods of summer possession for that year, Non-Custodial Parent shall have possession of the child for thirty days beginning no earlier than the day after the child's school is dismissed for the summer vacation and ending no later than seven days before school resumes at the end of the summer vacation in that year, to be exercised in no more than two separate periods of at least seven consecutive days each, with each period of possession beginning and ending at 6:00 p.m on each applicable day, as specified in the written notice. These periods of possession shall begin and end at 6:00 p.m.

    Without Written Notice by April 1 - If Non-Custodial Parent does not give Custodial Parent written notice by April 1 of a year specifying an extended period or periods of summer possession for that year, Non-Custodial Parent shall have possession of the child for thirty consecutive days in that year beginning at 6:00 p.m. on July 1 and ending at 6:00 p.m. on July 31.

    Notwithstanding the Thursday periods of possession during the regular school term and the weekend periods of possession ORDERED for Non-Custodial Parent, it is explicitly ORDERED that Custodial Parent shall have a superior right of possession of the child as follows:

    1.

    Spring Break in Odd-Numbered Years –

    In odd-numbered years, beginning at 6:00 p.m. on the day the child is dismissed from school for the school's spring vacation and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the day before school resumes after that vacation.

    2.

    Summer Weekend Possession by Custodial Parent –

    If Custodial Parent gives Non-Custodial Parent written notice by April 15 of a year, Custodial Parent shall have possession of the child on any one weekend beginning at 6:00 p.m. on Friday and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the following Sunday during any one period of the extended summer possession by Non-Custodial Parent in that year, provided that Custodial Parent picks up the child from Non-Custodial Parent and returns the child to that same place and that the weekend so designated does not interfere with Father's Day Weekend.

    3.

    Extended Summer Possession by Custodial Parent –

    If Custodial Parent gives Non-Custodial Parent written notice by April 15 of a year or gives Non-Custodial Parent fourteen days' written notice on or after April 16 of a year, Custodial Parent may designate one weekend beginning no earlier than the day after the child's school is dismissed for the summer vacation and ending no later than seven days before school resumes at the end of the summer vacation, during which an otherwise scheduled weekend period of possession by Non-Custodial Parent shall not take place in that year, provided that the weekend so designated does not interfere with Non-Custodial Parent's period or periods of extended summer possession or with Father's Day Weekend.

    (d)

    Parents Who Reside More Than 100 Miles Apart
    Except as otherwise explicitly provided in this Standard Possession Order, when Non-Custodial Parent resides more than 100 miles from the residence of the child, Non-Custodial Parent shall have the right to possession of the child as follows:

    1.

    Weekends -

    Unless Non-Custodial Parent elects the alternative period of weekend possession described in the next paragraph, Non-Custodial Parent shall have the right to possession of the child on weekends that occur during the regular school term, beginning at 6:00 p.m., on the first, third, and fifth Friday of each month and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the following Sunday, and on weekends that do not occur during the regular school term, beginning at 6:00 p.m. on the first, third and fifth Friday of each month and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the following Sunday. Except as otherwise explicitly provided in this Standard Possession Order, if such a weekend period of possession by Non-Custodial Parent begins on a Friday that is a student holiday or teacher in-service day during the regular school term, as determined by the school in which the child is enrolled, or a federal, state, or local holiday during the summer months when school is not in session, or if the period ends on or is immediately followed by a Monday that is such a holiday, that weekend period of possession shall begin at 6:00 p.m. on the Thursday immediately preceding the Friday holiday, student holiday or teacher in-service day or end at 6:00 p.m. on that Monday holiday, student holiday or teacher in-service day, as applicable.

    Alternate Weekend Possession – In lieu of the weekend possession described in the foregoing paragraph, Non-Custodial Parent shall have the right to possession of the child not more than one weekend per month of Non-Custodial Parent's choice beginning at 6:00 p.m. on the day school recesses for the weekend and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the day before school resumes after the weekend. Except as otherwise explicitly provided in this Standard Possession Order, if such a weekend period of possession by Non-Custodial Parent begins on a Friday that is a student holiday or teacher in-service day during the regular school term, as determined by the school in which the child is enrolled, or a federal, state, or local holiday during the summer months when school is not in session, or if the period ends on or is immediately followed by a Monday that is such a holiday, that weekend period of possession shall begin at 6:00 p.m. on the Thursday immediately preceding the Friday holiday, student holiday or teacher in-service day or end at 6:00 p.m. on that Monday holiday, student holiday or teacher in-service day, as applicable. Non-Custodial Parent may elect an option for this alternative period of weekend possession by giving written notice to Custodial Parent within ninety days after the parties begin to reside more than 100 miles apart. If Non-Custodial Parent makes this election, Non-Custodial Parent shall give Custodial Parent fourteen days' written or telephonic notice preceding a designated weekend. The weekends chosen shall not conflict with the provisions regarding Christmas, Thanksgiving, the child's birthday, and Mother's Day Weekend below.

    2.

    Spring Break in All Years –

    Every year, beginning at 6:00 p.m. on the day the child is dismissed from school for the school's spring vacation and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the day before school resumes after that vacation.

    3.

    Extended Summer Possession by Non-Custodial Parent -

    With Written Notice by April 1 - If Non-Custodial Parent gives Custodial Parent written notice by April 1 of a year specifying an extended period or periods of summer possession for that year, Non-Custodial Parent shall have possession of the child for forty-two days beginning no earlier than the day after the child's school is dismissed for the summer vacation and ending no later than seven days before school resumes at the end of the summer vacation in that year, to be exercised in no more than two separate periods of at least seven consecutive days each, with each period of possession beginning and ending at 6:00 p.m. on each applicable day, as specified in the written notice. These periods of possession shall begin and end at 6:00 p.m.

    Without Written Notice by April 1 - If Non-Custodial Parent does not give Custodial Parent written notice by April 1 of a year specifying an extended period or periods of summer possession for that year, Non-Custodial Parent shall have possession of the child for forty-two consecutive days beginning at 6:00 p.m. on June 15 and ending at 6:00 p.m. on July 27 of that year.

    Notwithstanding the weekend periods of possession ORDERED for Non-Custodial Parent, it is explicitly ORDERED that Custodial Parent shall have a superior right of possession of the child as follows:

    1.

    Summer Weekend Possession by Custodial Parent –

    If Custodial Parent gives Non-Custodial Parent written notice by April 15 of a year, Custodial Parent shall have possession of the child on any one weekend beginning at 6:00 p.m. on Friday and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the following Sunday during any one period of possession by Non-Custodial Parent during Non-Custodial Parent's extended summer possession in that year, provided that if a period of possession by Non-Custodial Parent in that year exceeds thirty days, Custodial Parent may have possession of the child under the terms of this provision on any two nonconsecutive weekends during that period and provided that Custodial Parent picks up the child from Non-Custodial Parent and returns the child to that same place and that the weekend so designated does not interfere with Father's Day Weekend.

    2.

    Extended Summer Possession by Custodial Parent –

    If Custodial Parent gives Non-Custodial Parent written notice by April 15 of a year, Custodial Parent may designate twenty-one days beginning no earlier than the day after the child's school is dismissed for the summer vacation and ending no later than seven days before school resumes at the end of the summer vacation in that year, to be exercised in no more than two separate periods of at least seven consecutive days each, with each period of possession beginning and ending at 6:00 p.m. on each applicable day, during which Non-Custodial Parent shall not have possession of the child, provided that the period or periods so designated do not interfere with Non-Custodial Parent's period or periods of extended summer possession or with Father's Day Weekend.

    Notwithstanding the Thursday periods of possession during the regular school term and the weekend periods of possession ORDERED for Non-Custodial Parent, it is explicitly ORDERED that Custodial Parent shall have a superior right of possession of the child as follows:

    1.

    Spring Break in Odd-Numbered Years –

    In odd-numbered years, beginning at 6:00 p.m. on the day the child is dismissed from school for the school's spring vacation and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the day before school resumes after that vacation.

    2.

    Summer Weekend Possession by Custodial Parent –

    If Custodial Parent gives Non-Custodial Parent written notice by April 15 of a year, Custodial Parent shall have possession of the child on any one weekend beginning at 6:00 p.m. on Friday and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the following Sunday during any one period of the extended summer possession by Non-Custodial Parent in that year, provided that Custodial Parent picks up the child from Non-Custodial Parent and returns the child to that same place and that the weekend so designated does not interfere with Father's Day Weekend.

    3.

    Extended Summer Possession by Custodial Parent –

    If Custodial Parent gives Non-Custodial Parent written notice by April 15 of a year or gives Non-Custodial Parent fourteen days' written notice on or after April 16 of a year, Custodial Parent may designate one weekend beginning no earlier than the day after the child's school is dismissed for the summer vacation and ending no later than seven days before school resumes at the end of the summer vacation, during which an otherwise scheduled weekend period of possession by Non-Custodial Parent shall not take place in that year, provided that the weekend so designated does not interfere with Non-Custodial Parent's period or periods of extended summer possession or with Father's Day Weekend.

    (e)

    Holidays Unaffected by Distance
    Notwithstanding the weekend and Thursday periods of possession of Non-Custodial Parent, Custodial Parent and Non-Custodial Parent shall have the right to possession of the child as follows:

    1.

    Christmas Holidays in Even-Numbered Years -

    In even-numbered years, Non-Custodial Parent shall have the right to possession of the child beginning at 6:00 p.m. on the day the child is dismissed from school for the Christmas school vacation and ending at noon on December 28, and Custodial Parent shall have the right to possession of the child beginning at noon on December 28 and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the day before school resumes after that Christmas school vacation.

    2.

    Christmas Holidays in Odd-Numbered Years -

    In odd-numbered years, Custodial Parent shall have the right to possession of the child beginning at 6:00 p.m. on the day the child is dismissed from school for the Christmas school vacation and ending at noon on December 28, and Non-Custodial Parent shall have the right to possession of the child beginning at noon on December 28 and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the day before school resumes after that Christmas school vacation.

    3.

    Thanksgiving in Odd-Numbered Years -

    In odd-numbered years, Non-Custodial Parent shall have the right to possession of the child beginning at 6:00 p.m. on the day the child is dismissed from school for the Thanksgiving holiday and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the Sunday following Thanksgiving.

    4.

    Thanksgiving in Even-Numbered Years -

    In even-numbered years, Custodial Parent shall have the right to possession of the child beginning at 6:00 p.m. on the day the child is dismissed from school for the Thanksgiving holiday and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the Sunday following Thanksgiving.

    5.

    Child's Birthday -

    If a parent is not otherwise entitled under this Standard Possession Order to present possession of the child on the child's birthday, that parent shall have possession of the child beginning at 6:00 p.m. and ending at 8:00 p.m. on that day, provided that parent picks up the child from the other parent's residence and returns the child to that same place.

    6.

    Father's Day Weekend -

    Non-Custodial Parent shall have the right to possession of the child each year, beginning at 6:00 p.m. on the Friday preceding Father's Day and ending at 6:00 p.m. on Father's Day, provided that if Non-Custodial Parent is not otherwise entitled under this Standard Possession Order to present possession of the child, he shall pick up the child from Custodial Parent's residence and return the child to that same place.

    7.

    Mother's Day Weekend -

    Custodial Parent shall have the right to possession of the child each year, beginning at 6:00 p.m. on the Friday preceding Mother's Day and ending at 6:00 p.m. on Mother's Day, provided that if Custodial Parent is not otherwise entitled under this Standard Possession Order to present possession of the child, she shall pick up the child from Non-Custodial Parent's residence and return the child to that same place.

    (f)

    Undesignated Periods of Possession


    Custodial Parent shall have the right of possession of the child at all other times not specifically designated in this Standard Possession Order for Non-Custodial Parent.

    (g)

    General Terms and Conditions


    Except as otherwise explicitly provided in this Standard Possession Order, the terms and conditions of possession of the child that apply regardless of the distance between the residence of a parent and the child are as follows:

    1.

    Surrender of Child by Custodial Parent - Custodial Parent is ORDERED to surrender the child to Non-Custodial Parent at the beginning of each period of Non-Custodial Parent's possession at the residence of Custodial Parent.

    2.

    Surrender of Child by Non-Custodial Parent - Non-Custodial Parent is ORDERED to surrender the child to Custodial Parent at the residence of Non-Custodial Parent at the end of each period of possession.

    3.

    Surrender of Child by Non-Custodial Parent - Non-Custodial Parent is ORDERED to surrender the child to Custodial Parent, if the child is in Non-Custodial Parent's possession or subject to Non-Custodial Parent's control, at the beginning of each period of Custodial Parent's exclusive periods of possession, at the place designated in this Standard Possession Order.

    4.

    Return of Child by Custodial Parent - Custodial Parent is ORDERED to return the child to Non-Custodial Parent, if Non-Custodial Parent is entitled to possession of the child, at the end of each of Custodial Parent's exclusive periods of possession, at the place designated in this Standard Possession Order.

    5.

    Personal Effects - Each conservator is ORDERED to return with the child the personal effects that the child brought at the beginning of the period of possession.

    6.

    Designation of Competent Adult - Each conservator may designate any competent adult to pick up and return the child, as applicable. IT IS ORDERED that a conservator or a designated competent adult be present when the child is picked up or returned.

    7.

    Inability to Exercise Possession - Each conservator is ORDERED to give notice to the person in possession of the child on each occasion that the conservator will be unable to exercise that conservator's right of possession for any specified period.

    8.

    Written Notice - Written notice shall be deemed to have been timely made if received or postmarked before or at the time that notice is due.

    This concludes the Standard Possession Order.”

    B.

    EXPANDED STANDARD POSSESSION ORDER. Generally, the Standard Possession Order is the minimum amount of time with the child that the courts generally award to the Non-Custodial Parent. However, it is not the maximum amount of time that the Non-Custodial Parent can spend with the child. If a parent wishes to spend more time with the child than is provided for in the Standard Possession Order, then they may apply for an Expanded Possession Order. There are three main differences between the Standard and Expanded Possession Orders: 1. Weekends: The Non-Custodial Parent can choose to pick up the child from school on Friday and/or bring the child to school on Monday, allowing for an uninterrupted weekend for the Non-Custodial Parent and child to spend together. 2. Thursdays: The Non-Custodial Parent may elect to pick up the child from school on Thursday and bring the child to school the following Friday morning. 3. Holidays: The Non-Custodial Parents is awarded more time with the child during holidays than under the Expanded Standard than the Standard Possession Order. The full text of the Expanded Possession Order is:

    “The Court finds that the following provisions of this Standard Possession Order are intended to and do comply with the requirements of Texas Family Code sections 153.311 through 153.317. IT IS ORDERED that each conservator shall comply with all terms and conditions of this Standard Possession Order. IT IS ORDERED that this Standard Possession Order is effective immediately and applies to all periods of possession occurring on and after the date the Court signs this Standard Possession Order. IT IS, THEREFORE, ORDERED:

    (a)

    Definitions

    1.

    In this Standard Possession Order "school" means the primary or secondary school in which the child is enrolled or, if the child is not enrolled in a primary or secondary school, the public school district in which the child primarily resides.

    2.

    In this Standard Possession Order "child" includes each child, whether one or more, who is a subject of this suit while that child is under the age of eighteen years and not otherwise emancipated.

    (b)

    Mutual Agreement or Specified Terms for Possession
    IT IS ORDERED that the conservators shall have possession of the child at times mutually agreed to in advance by the parties, and, in the absence of mutual agreement, it is ORDERED that the conservators shall have possession of the child under the specified terms set out in this Standard Possession Order.

    (c)

    Parents Who Reside 100 Miles or Less Apart
    Except as otherwise explicitly provided in this Standard Possession Order, when Non-Custodial Parent resides 100 miles or less from the primary residence of the child, Non-Custodial Parent shall have the right to possession of the child as follows:

    1.

    Weekends -

    On weekends that occur during the regular school term, beginning at the time the child's school is regularly dismissed, on the first, third, and fifth Friday of each month and ending at the time the child's school resumes after the weekend.

    On weekends that do not occur during the regular school term, beginning at 6:00 p.m., on the first, third, and fifth Friday of each month and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the following Sunday.

    2.

    Weekend Possession Extended by a Holiday –

    Except as otherwise explicitly provided in this Standard Possession Order, if a weekend period of possession by Non-Custodial Parent begins on a Friday that is a student holiday or teacher in-service day during the regular school term, as determined by the school in which the child is enrolled, or a federal, state, or local holiday during the summer months when school is not in session, or if the period ends on or is immediately followed by a Monday that is such a holiday, that weekend period of possession shall begin at the time the child's school is regularly dismissed on the Thursday immediately preceding the Friday holiday, student holiday or teacher in-service day or end at 6:00 p.m. on that Monday holiday, student holiday or teacher in-service day, as applicable.

    3.

    Thursdays –

    On Thursday of each week during the regular school term, beginning at the time the child's school is regularly dismissed and ending at the time the child's school resumes on Friday.

    4.

    Spring Break in Even-Numbered Years –

    In even-numbered years, beginning at the time the child's school is regularly dismissed on the day the child is dismissed from school for the school's spring vacation and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the day before school resumes after that vacation.

    5.

    Extended Summer Possession by Non-Custodial Parent -

    With Written Notice by April 1 - If Non-Custodial Parent gives Custodial Parent written notice by April 1 of a year specifying an extended period or periods of summer possession for that year, Non-Custodial Parent shall have possession of the child for thirty days beginning no earlier than the day after the child's school is dismissed for the summer vacation and ending no later than seven days before school resumes at the end of the summer vacation in that year, to be exercised in no more than two separate periods of at least seven consecutive days each, with each period of possession beginning and ending at 6:00 p.m on each applicable day, as specified in the written notice. These periods of possession shall begin and end at 6:00 p.m.

    Without Written Notice by April 1 - If Non-Custodial Parent does not give Custodial Parent written notice by April 1 of a year specifying an extended period or periods of summer possession for that year, Non-Custodial Parent shall have possession of the child for thirty consecutive days in that year beginning at 6:00 p.m. on July 1 and ending at 6:00 p.m. on July 31.

    Notwithstanding the Thursday periods of possession during the regular school term and the weekend periods of possession ORDERED for Non-Custodial Parent, it is explicitly ORDERED that Custodial Parent shall have a superior right of possession of the child as follows:

    1.

    Spring Break in Odd-Numbered Years –

    In odd-numbered years, beginning at the time the child's school is regularly dismissed on the day the child is dismissed from school for the school's spring vacation and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the day before school resumes after that vacation.

    2.

    Summer Weekend Possession by Custodial Parent –

    If Custodial Parent gives Non-Custodial Parent written notice by April 15 of a year, Custodial Parent shall have possession of the child on any one weekend beginning at 6:00 p.m. on Friday and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the following Sunday during any one period of the extended summer possession by Non-Custodial Parent in that year, provided that Custodial Parent picks up the child from Non-Custodial Parent and returns the child to that same place and that the weekend so designated does not interfere with Father's Day Weekend.

    3.

    Extended Summer Possession by Custodial Parent –

    If Custodial Parent gives Non-Custodial Parent written notice by April 15 of a year or gives Non-Custodial Parent fourteen days' written notice on or after April 16 of a year, Custodial Parent may designate one weekend beginning no earlier than the day after the child's school is dismissed for the summer vacation and ending no later than seven days before school resumes at the end of the summer vacation, during which an otherwise scheduled weekend period of possession by Non-Custodial Parent shall not take place in that year, provided that the weekend so designated does not interfere with Non-Custodial Parent's period or periods of extended summer possession or with Father's Day Weekend.

    (d)

    Parents Who Reside More Than 100 Miles Apart
    Except as otherwise explicitly provided in this Standard Possession Order, when Non-Custodial Parent resides more than 100 miles from the residence of the child, Non-Custodial Parent shall have the right to possession of the child as follows:

    1.

    Weekends -

    Unless Non-Custodial Parent elects the alternative period of weekend possession described in the next paragraph, Non-Custodial Parent shall have the right to possession of the child on weekends that occur during the regular school term, beginning at 6:00 p.m., on the first, third, and fifth Friday of each month and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the following Sunday, and on weekends that do not occur during the regular school term, beginning at 6:00 p.m. on the first, third and fifth Friday of each month and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the following Sunday. Except as otherwise explicitly provided in this Standard Possession Order, if such a weekend period of possession by Non-Custodial Parent begins on a Friday that is a student holiday or teacher in-service day during the regular school term, as determined by the school in which the child is enrolled, or a federal, state, or local holiday during the summer months when school is not in session, or if the period ends on or is immediately followed by a Monday that is such a holiday, that weekend period of possession shall begin at the time the child's school is regularly dismissed on the Thursday immediately preceding the Friday holiday, student holiday or teacher in-service day or end at 6:00 p.m. on that Monday holiday, student holiday or teacher in-service day, as applicable.

    Alternate Weekend Possession – In lieu of the weekend possession described in the foregoing paragraph, Non-Custodial Parent shall have the right to possession of the child not more than one weekend per month of Non-Custodial Parent's choice beginning at 6:00 p.m. on the day school recesses for the weekend and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the day before school resumes after the weekend. Except as otherwise explicitly provided in this Standard Possession Order, if such a weekend period of possession by Non-Custodial Parent begins on a Friday that is a student holiday or teacher in-service day during the regular school term, as determined by the school in which the child is enrolled, or a federal, state, or local holiday during the summer months when school is not in session, or if the period ends on or is immediately followed by a Monday that is such a holiday, that weekend period of possession shall begin at the time the child's school is regularly dismissed on the Thursday immediately preceding the Friday holiday, student holiday or teacher in-service day or end at 6:00 p.m. on that Monday holiday, student holiday or teacher in-service day, as applicable. Non-Custodial Parent may elect an option for this alternative period of weekend possession by giving written notice to Custodial Parent within ninety days after the parties begin to reside more than 100 miles apart. If Non-Custodial Parent makes this election, Non-Custodial Parent shall give Custodial Parent fourteen days' written or telephonic notice preceding a designated weekend. The weekends chosen shall not conflict with the provisions regarding Christmas, Thanksgiving, the child's birthday, and Mother's Day Weekend below.

    2.

    Spring Break in All Years –

    Every year, beginning at 6:00 p.m. on the day the child is dismissed from school for the school's spring vacation and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the day before school resumes after that vacation.

    3.

    Extended Summer Possession by Non-Custodial Parent -

    With Written Notice by April 1 - If Non-Custodial Parent gives Custodial Parent written notice by April 1 of a year specifying an extended period or periods of summer possession for that year, Non-Custodial Parent shall have possession of the child for forty-two days beginning no earlier than the day after the child's school is dismissed for the summer vacation and ending no later than seven days before school resumes at the end of the summer vacation in that year, to be exercised in no more than two separate periods of at least seven consecutive days each, with each period of possession beginning and ending at 6:00 p.m. on each applicable day, as specified in the written notice. These periods of possession shall begin and end at 6:00 p.m.

    Without Written Notice by April 1 - If Non-Custodial Parent does not give Custodial Parent written notice by April 1 of a year specifying an extended period or periods of summer possession for that year, Non-Custodial Parent shall have possession of the child for forty-two consecutive days beginning at 6:00 p.m. on June 15 and ending at 6:00 p.m. on July 27 of that year.

    Notwithstanding the weekend periods of possession ORDERED for Non-Custodial Parent, it is explicitly ORDERED that Custodial Parent shall have a superior right of possession of the child as follows:

    1.

    Summer Weekend Possession by Custodial Parent –

    If Custodial Parent gives Non-Custodial Parent written notice by April 15 of a year, Custodial Parent shall have possession of the child on any one weekend beginning at 6:00 p.m. on Friday and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the following Sunday during any one period of possession by Non-Custodial Parent during Non-Custodial Parent's extended summer possession in that year, provided that if a period of possession by Non-Custodial Parent in that year exceeds thirty days, Custodial Parent may have possession of the child under the terms of this provision on any two nonconsecutive weekends during that period and provided that Custodial Parent picks up the child from Non-Custodial Parent and returns the child to that same place and that the weekend so designated does not interfere with Father's Day Weekend.

    2.

    Extended Summer Possession by Custodial Parent –

    If Custodial Parent gives Non-Custodial Parent written notice by April 15 of a year, Custodial Parent may designate twenty-one days beginning no earlier than the day after the child's school is dismissed for the summer vacation and ending no later than seven days before school resumes at the end of the summer vacation in that year, to be exercised in no more than two separate periods of at least seven consecutive days each, with each period of possession beginning and ending at 6:00 p.m. on each applicable day, during which Non-Custodial Parent shall not have possession of the child, provided that the period or periods so designated do not interfere with Non-Custodial Parent's period or periods of extended summer possession or with Father's Day Weekend.


    (e)

    Holidays Unaffected by Distance
    Notwithstanding the weekend and Thursday periods of possession of Non-Custodial Parent, Custodial Parent and Non-Custodial Parent shall have the right to possession of the child as follows:

    1.

    Christmas Holidays in Even-Numbered Years -

    In even-numbered years, Non-Custodial Parent shall have the right to possession of the child beginning at the time the child's school is regularly dismissed on the day the child is dismissed from school for the Christmas school vacation and ending at noon on December 28, and Custodial Parent shall have the right to possession of the child beginning at noon on December 28 and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the day before school resumes after that Christmas school vacation.

    2.

    Christmas Holidays in Odd-Numbered Years -

    In odd-numbered years, Custodial Parent shall have the right to possession of the child beginning at the time the child's school is regularly dismissed on the day the child is dismissed from school for the Christmas school vacation and ending at noon on December 28, and Non-Custodial Parent shall have the right to possession of the child beginning at noon on December 28 and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the day before school resumes after that Christmas school vacation.

    3.

    Thanksgiving in Odd-Numbered Years -

    In odd-numbered years, Non-Custodial Parent shall have the right to possession of the child beginning at the time the child's school is regularly dismissed on the day the child is dismissed from school for the Thanksgiving holiday and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the Sunday following Thanksgiving.

    4.

    Thanksgiving in Even-Numbered Years -

    In even-numbered years, Custodial Parent shall have the right to possession of the child beginning at the time the child's school is regularly dismissed on the day the child is dismissed from school for the Thanksgiving holiday and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the Sunday following Thanksgiving.

    5.

    Child's Birthday -

    If a parent is not otherwise entitled under this Standard Possession Order to present possession of the child on the child's birthday, that parent shall have possession of the child beginning at 6:00 p.m. and ending at 8:00 p.m. on that day, provided that parent picks up the child from the other parent's residence and returns the child to that same place.

    6.

    Father's Day Weekend -

    Non-Custodial Parent shall have the right to possession of the child each year, beginning at 6:00 p.m. on the Friday preceding Father's Day and ending at 8:00 a.m. the Monday after Father's Day, provided that if Non-Custodial Parent is not otherwise entitled under this Standard Possession Order to present possession of the child, he shall pick up the child from Custodial Parent's residence and return the child to that same place.

    7.

    Mother's Day Weekend -

    Custodial Parent shall have the right to possession of the child each year, beginning at the time the child's school is regularly dismissed on the Friday preceding Mother's Day and ending at the time the child's school resumes after Mother's Day, provided that if Custodial Parent is not otherwise entitled under this Standard Possession Order to present possession of the child, she shall pick up the child from Non-Custodial Parent's residence and return the child to that same place.

    (f)

    Undesignated Periods of Possession
    Custodial Parent shall have the right of possession of the child at all other times not specifically designated in this Standard Possession Order for Non-Custodial Parent.

    (g)

    General Terms and Conditions
    Except as otherwise explicitly provided in this Standard Possession Order, the terms and conditions of possession of the child that apply regardless of the distance between the residence of a parent and the child are as follows:

    1.

    Surrender of Child by Custodial Parent - Custodial Parent is ORDERED to surrender the child to Non-Custodial Parent at the beginning of each period of Non-Custodial Parent's possession at the residence of Custodial Parent.
    If a period of possession by Non-Custodial Parent begins at the time the child's school is regularly dismissed, Custodial Parent is ORDERED to surrender the child to Non-Custodial Parent at the beginning of each such period of possession at the school in which the child is enrolled. If the child is not in school, Non-Custodial Parent shall pick up the child at the residence of Custodial Parent at 6:00 p.m., and Custodial Parent is ORDERED to surrender the child to Non-Custodial Parent at the residence of Custodial Parent at 6:00 p.m. under these circumstances.

    2.

    Surrender of Child by Non-Custodial Parent - Non-Custodial Parent is ORDERED to surrender the child to Custodial Parent at the residence of Non-Custodial Parent at the end of each period of possession.
    If a period of possession by Non-Custodial Parent ends at the time the child's school resumes, Non-Custodial Parent is ORDERED to surrender the child to Custodial Parent at the end of each such period of possession at the school in which the child is enrolled or, if the child is not in school, at the residence of Custodial Parent at 6:00 p.m.

    3.

    Surrender of Child by Non-Custodial Parent - Non-Custodial Parent is ORDERED to surrender the child to Custodial Parent, if the child is in Non-Custodial Parent's possession or subject to Non-Custodial Parent's control, at the beginning of each period of Custodial Parent's exclusive periods of possession, at the place designated in this Standard Possession Order.

    4.

    Return of Child by Custodial Parent - Custodial Parent is ORDERED to return the child to Non-Custodial Parent, if Non-Custodial Parent is entitled to possession of the child, at the end of each of Custodial Parent's exclusive periods of possession, at the place designated in this Standard Possession Order.

    5.

    Personal Effects - Each conservator is ORDERED to return with the child the personal effects that the child brought at the beginning of the period of possession.

    6.

    Designation of Competent Adult - Each conservator may designate any competent adult to pick up and return the child, as applicable. IT IS ORDERED that a conservator or a designated competent adult be present when the child is picked up or returned.

    7.

    Inability to Exercise Possession - Each conservator is ORDERED to give notice to the person in possession of the child on each occasion that the conservator will be unable to exercise that conservator's right of possession for any specified period.

    8.

    Written Notice - Written notice shall be deemed to have been timely made if received or postmarked before or at the time that notice is due.

    9.

    Notice to School and Custodial Parent - If Non-Custodial Parent's time of possession of the child ends at the time school resumes and for any reason the child is not or will not be returned to school, Non-Custodial Parent shall immediately notify the school and Custodial Parent that the child will not be or has not been returned to school.

    This concludes the Expanded Standard Possession Order.”


    C.

    MUTUAL AGREEMENT. In many cases, an agreement can be worked out between the parents without needing either of the Possession Orders. This can be done at mediation, or at any time during the court proceedings. Generally, however, the Standard Possession Order is often used as a template, guiding the parents and their attorneys through the drafting of the parties’ final agreement.

    D.

    ENFORCEMENT OF A POSSESSION ORDER. In most cases, a child is better off fostering meaningful relationships with both of his or her parents. If a parent refuses to allow the other parent to have access to their child, such acts may ultimately harm the child’s wellbeing. Accordingly, when a parent refuses to comply with their possession order (whether agreed upon in mediation or decided upon in trial), such parent may be found in contempt of court. Indeed, if a parents willfully avoids complying with the orders set forth by a court, he or she could potentially be charged criminally (which means possible jail time, fines, and other serious consequences.)
  • Timeline of Custody Negotiation
    A. INITIAL CONSULTATION. When you first hire an attorney, both you and your counsel will want to sit down and discuss the facts of your case. It is very important to be fully honest with your lawyer and disclose all facts (even facts that you may believe hurt your case). Indeed, a client’s full disclosure to his or her attorney is very important because an attorney’s strategy necessarily depends on knowing all facts. Your lawyer will let you know all of the strengths and difficulties present in your case. Nonetheless, you should feel free to ask your attorney all of your questions about the custody process. You should always remember that your attorney is there to help your case without any judgment — being absolutely up-front with your attorney will help your case.

    B. FILING. Generally, the documents for your case (the “”Pleadings” whether a divorce or modification action or a SAPCR) are filed by your attorney a few days after your initial consultation and after you hire your attorney. The courts will generally take a few days to process the documents. Your attorney will keep in contact with you to let you know the progress of your case. After the other party is served with citation of the lawsuit, they will have approximately 20 days to file an answer with the court.

    C. TEMPORARY ORDERS HEARING. Your case may require that the court have a hearing on temporary orders. A hearing on temporary orders usually occurs 2 to 4 weeks after the initial filing of your lawsuit — it is usually heard before an associate judge. The hearing on temporary orders decides the issues of temporary custody arrangements during the trial process, the preservation of important financial documents, the amount and frequency of child support payments, and other issues that might come up during the process of the lawsuit. A “temporary order,” once in place, will generally remain in place during the pendency of the lawsuit. For this reason, your attorney needs to know all of the major facts of your case up-front. Success at the temporary order hearing may increase your chances of more time with your child later on.

    D. DISCLOSURES. Each party in a custody dispute is required to disclose certain financial information in order for both parties to be able to make informed decisions regarding child support and custody.

    E. DEPOSITIONS. While not a part of every divorce, if the parents contest the case, disagree on the facts or feel that they have not fully developed all facts, then usually both parents’ deposition will be given. A deposition is a formal question and answer process —although it is less formal than a courtroom. Nonetheless, a deposition is taken under oath, and may be videotaped and recorded and always transcribed by a court reporter. Depositions may also be taken of witnesses who have information relevant to the case including non-parties, witnesses, family members, and sometimes, expert witnesses. Usually, your deposition will take place at your attorney’s offices and the deposition of the other parent will take place at their attorney’s offices. The depositions of others may be in either attorney’s offices depending on the facts of the case.

    Before you give your deposition, your attorney will prepare you by explaining the process and what it is that you can expect and also will answer your questions. During most of the allotted time for your deposition, the opposing counsel will ask you questions and which questions you will have to answer unless your attorney instructs you otherwise. You may generally request to take a break from the deposition at any time. Of most importance, when a question is asked of you in a deposition, you should allow a short time before answering so as to give your attorney time to object, if needed. Also, you should listen to all questions carefully and only answer the question that is asked — you should refrain from offering explanations or narratives. Finally, as you are under oath, you must always be truthful in your responses to deposition questions, even if you believe that doing so will damage your case.

    After the opposing counsel finishes his questions, your attorney may choose to ask you follow up question or questions that may seek to clarify certain items. Your attorney may choose not to ask you such follow up questions. It is rare for a case to be won or lost at a deposition, but certainly, you can hurt your case if you do not prepare carefully and answer the questions truthfully. In a custody case, a deposition is generally thought of as a defensive technique rather than an offensive one. The opposing counsel is looking for holes in your testimony or issues in your parenting. You must remember that you are presented at a deposition to provide truthful answers to fair questions and not to convince the opposing attorney about any issue regarding your case.

    In general, depositions may be the most important part of a custody battle because they often set the stage for mediation and help determine whether the parties will agree to settle a case or whether there will be a trial. If the parties agree to settle the case, it is likely that the parties’ depositions will end up being the only sworn testimony in the case.

    F. MEDIATION. Mediation is a process whereby the parties and their attorneys meet with an impartial third party to discuss the potential settlement of the dispute. Oftentimes, the main goal of mediation is for the parties to reach an agreement on all outstanding issues, including but not limited to custody and child support payments. Mediations are conducted by mediators, and are usually court ordered, and which must be at least attempted before the court will preside over a trial in the case. Generally, family law mediators are senior lawyers, who have served as family judges or attorneys that have many years of experience in family law matters.

    Mediations have several advantages. Unlike the more adversarial trial setting, mediations take place in a casual and private environment. This atmosphere and the experience of the mediator often expedite results. The mediator promotes the resolution of the parties’ disputes and will prohibit any form of fighting or arguing between the parties. Nonetheless, the mediator will place the parties in separate rooms and the mediator will shuttle back and forth with suggestions for each side until agreement is reached.

    If the parties find a resolution of their disputes, the mediator in conjunction with the attorneys will draft an irrevocable and binding mediation settlement agreement for the parties’ signatures. The mediation settlement agreement will generally form the foundation for and be incorporated into the final divorce decree.

    Mediations can take place at any point — from the day one party filed for divorce to the night before trial. The sole requirement for a mediation to take place is the parties’ willingness \to mediate their disputes with a mediator.

    G. TRIAL. If all attempts to settle a dispute have failed, your case will then be set for trial. Unlike most hearings in a case, trials are presided over by the district judge, and may be for a jury to decide if you or your spouse has requested one. A family law trial will involve the same features as other civil trials. The trial will include testimony from both parties as well as any other witnesses (including any expert witnesses) as well as opening and closing statement by the attorneys. The judge or jury will then resolve the issues based upon their understanding of the facts as applied to the relevant law. The results of the trial are final and binding. In few instances, it may be advisable to discuss the merits of an appeal of the judge’s or jury’s decision.

    Trials in family cases are rare. Approximately, about 95% of all divorces are settled before and instead of a trial. Indeed, the threat of trial and a public record of all facts relevant to the dispute can serve as significant reason for the parties to end the dispute by agreement.

    H. EXPERT WITNESSES. Sometimes, courts are unable to assess the best interest of the child. For example, one parent accuses the other parent of child neglect or of being addicted to alcohol or drugs.

    In this kind of cases, courts are free to appoint professionals, for example court-appointed psychologists, child advocates, licensed professional counselors, psychiatrists, among others, to examine either the children or the parents, or both. While the experts’ recommendations in their final reports to the court are not conclusive or binding upon the judge, judges do rely on experts, especially on those experts that were appointed by the court to assist in making a decision on the best interest of the child.

    Of course, each party has a right to choose their own experts to corroborate or challenge the court appointed experts. Some of these party hired experts have a very long relationship with the court and may impact the judge’s analysis.

    Finally, expert witnesses can include Parent Facilitators, Attorneys-at-litem, Psychologists, Psychiatrists, Professional Counselors, and Texas Child Protective Services.

Legal Help


If you are thinking about fighting for custody of your children on your own, be careful! A judgment or order from a court will establish the rules that you must live by, maybe for the rest of your life. In a custody dispute, a parent not only risks the relationship with his or her children, but also the structure of the rest of his or her life. This is where a lawyer comes in. An experienced attorney will serve as a trustworthy guide to navigating the complicated and difficult situations that come up in a custody dispute. But in every case, your lawyer will fight for you and for your child’s best interests.

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© 2015 Oberheiden Law Group, PLLC | All Rights Reserved.
Pursuant to TDRPC 7.04(b)(1); Click to view Responsible Attorney. Attorney Advertising. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Contact