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Child Visitation and Possession Orders


These times, it is already slowly accepted in society that couples who initially get married but do not get to work things out in the long run get a divorce. And in this process, there are steps that need to be taken in order for the whole process to go in a smooth, orderly fashion.

One of the important things that couples need to take into consideration is the possession orders – especially if the couple involved already has children. When children are involved, it is only a must to consider how the couple will share the time of their children now that they are apart. This is where Possession Orders and Child Visitation come in.

In order to give one a brief background on a Possession Orders, one needs to understand that this is given only when there was an initial conflict on the custody of the child because of family issues that were brought to court. In simpler terms, a Possession Order is the legal document that indicates when the parents are each given the time to be with their child separately. It is just like how children are ordered by parents on how they will share one toy. Since the divorce or the separation has taken into effect, this will trickle down to the visitation rights of each couple to their child or children.

Possession Orders

In the state of Texas, there are 4 types of Possession Orders. Couples will apply only one type of Possession Order that the court would deem most fit for their current situation. These four types are the following:

  1. Standard Possession Order,
  2. Modified Possession Order,
  3. Possession Order for a Child Under 3 years old, and the
  4. Supervised Possession Order.

This article aims to discuss each of the types of Possession Orders and to let couple delve in deeper to the understanding of such Possession Orders in order to wisely go through the process of filing the necessary documents.

Standard Possession Order

A Standard Possession Order is usually used for children that are aged 3 years old and above. The SPO is given when parents are in an amicable agreement to determine the times when the child will be in the possession of each parent.

This is where the court will have to determine which parent will be the custodial and the non-custodial parent. It is simple to define which is which. The custodial parent will be the one who has possession of the child, while the non-custodial parent is the one who has visitation rights in order for him or her to have enough time to spend with the child.

However, it is important to note that the non-custodial parent will always have the visitation rights for the child, regardless of whether the agreement was amicable or not. Upon order by the court or when signed by the judge, the non-custodial parent has the right to visit the child every weekend and Thursday evenings, alternate holidays and summer vacations up to 30 days.

There are times when the court needs to consider the logistical factors if the parents live in different homes. This will depend on the distance of each parent’s home. If the parents live more than 100 miles apart, the non-custodial parent has the right to visit the child to at least one weekend per month, holidays and summer vacations for at least 42 days.

Custody for a longer time during summer vacations is granted to the non-custodial parent if the parents live far apart because the court recognizes that distance does not allow the non-custodial parent to see the child for a longer period of time.

Modified Possession Order

A Modified Possession Order is where both parents come to an agreement that the Standard Possession Order does not fit the situation of the family. Since the Standard Possession Order is a uniformed template for all couples in terms of visitation rights, the Modified Possession Order adjusts to how it will be best fit the current state of the family.

As the word describes it, a modified possession order allows the parents or the decision makers to alter the arrangement in such a way that it would benefit both sides of the parties. In case a couple wants to avail of this kind of Possession Order, a lawyer should be consulted in order to draft the aforementioned order. This is where the couple can agree on the visitation rights – alternate weeks and weekends, overnights, etc.

Possession Order for a Child Under 3 years old

If a child is under the age of 3, it is recommended that the parents may come to the agreement to still use the Standard Possession Order. Since the child is still in a stage where development is not as fast as those that are older, it is easier for the couple to apply the Standard Possession Order.

However, if the parents are unable to come to terms, it is up to the judge to decide on the visitation rights and schedules. Of course, it is also important to note that the said possession order should be able to stipulate the next steps on the visitation rights as soon as the child goes over the age of 3 years old.

Supervised Possession Order

The last of the types of Possession orders is the Supervised Possession Order. This is where the judge is left to decide for the fate of the child. This is where it is evident that both parties are unable to come to terms with the custody of the child.

In addition, this may be used if the judge determines that the safety of the child is critical when supervised by the concerned parents. If this situation is evident in the family, the judge is given the upper hand to decide that the child be supervised by another family member or a third party, or an agency.

The parents involved are still ordered to be held responsible for the payment of the agency service fees. One of the biggest factors that a judge considers in order to apply this kind of Possession Order is the form of violence or abuse involved in the case.

While it is still a responsibility for both parents to take care of their child, there are also other parents who may be unable to do so because of emotional, physical, or financial issues. This being said, another point that should be taken into consideration is that both parents will always have visitation rights for their child. This will be regardless of the fact that they may not be able to support the child financially, or are not able to pay for agency fees.

If there is any instance that a parents does not allow the other parent to visit their child, the court will hold that parent in contempt in court for doing so. At the end of the day, the court still recognizes that the family is an important element for the state. The court values the foundations of a family. The law understands that it is vital for a growing child to have both parents present in order to have full and complete development. More than the parents, the court takes care of the child who will be in constant need of guidance and care, molded to be a good citizen of the state.

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Mr. Hutton is a Divorce and Custody Lawyer based out of Round Rock, TX. His background is with child psychology at Arizona State University where he received a B.S. in 2006, and he continued this by working with the Children’s Right’s Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law where he received his J.D. in 2009. Throughout his practice, he has been a strong proponent of utilizing modern technology to improve his practice and the representation of his clients. He currently is the technology chair of CAFA of Travis County and is committed to improving and modernizing the practice of law in Texas. If you have any questions you can contact him at timothy.hutton@austintexaslegal.com

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