As you begin coping with your imminent Texas divorce, likely one of your biggest concerns is how you and your about-to-be former spouse will handle the custody and visitation of your children. You may be unaware of the fact that you and your spouse can agree to whatever parenting plan you want to. However, you will need to put it in writing, sign it, and get it approved by a judge.

You also need to know that if you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement, the Texas Family Code contains a Standard Possession Order that the judge will impose upon you. The SPO sets forth two visitation schedules, one for if you and your former spouse live within 100 miles of each other after your divorce, and the other if you live more than 100 miles apart.

Up to 100 miles apart

Should you become your children’s noncustodial parent, the Texas Code calls you the possessory conservator. As such, if you and your children’s other parent live 100 or fewer miles from each other after your divorce, your visitation rights and responsibilities include the following:

  • You will get your children on the first, third and fifth weekends of each month.
  • You will also get them from 6–8 p.m. on Thursdays during their school year.
  • For all of these visitations you will need to pick up your children from their custodial parent and return them to him or her once the visitation period ends.
  • When returning your children to their other parent you will need to also return whatever clothing and personal items they brought with them.

More than 100 miles apart

If you and your children’s other parent live more than 100 miles away from each other after your divorce, your visitation rights as the possessory conservator include the following:

  • You will get your children one weekend per month.
  • You can choose which weekend you want each month, but you must notify your children’s other parent of your choice at least 14 days in advance by telephone, email or snail mail
  • You will receive extended visitation during your children’s summer vacations and spring breaks.

Keep in mind that the Standard Possession Order and its provisions come into play only if you and your spouse cannot agree to a parenting plan on your own. This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.