If you are a Texas parent thinking about divorcing your spouse, you likely have at least a vague idea that you and your spouse will need to come to an agreement regarding the parenting time both of you will have with your children after the divorce. What you may not realize, however, is that the Texas Family Code contains the default parenting time provisions that will go into effect after your divorce if you and your spouse cannot come up with an agreement yourselves. These provisions go by the name of a Standard Possession Order.

The SPO not only provides a highly detailed schedule of the parenting times your children will spend with both their custodial and noncustodial parent, but also includes detailed provisions as to how you and your former spouse will exchange your children between you so that these parenting times can take place. The precise provisions depend on how far away from each other you and your ex-spouse live after your divorce.

If you live fewer than 100 miles apart

If the two of you live fewer than 100 miles away from each other after your divorce, the SPO lets the noncustodial parent, called the possessory conservator, have the following parenting times under the following conditions:

  • Friday at 6 p.m. to Sunday at 6 p.m. on the first, third and fifth weekends of each month
  • Every Thursday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. during the school year
  • Possessory conservator to provide pick-up and return of your children from and to the custodial parent’s home or other agreed location
  • Possessory conservator to return to the custodial parent all of the children’s clothing and other items they bring with them

If you live more than 100 miles apart

If the two of you live more than 100 miles away from each other after your divorce, the SPO lets the possessory conservator have the following parenting times under the following conditions:

  • Friday at 6 p.m. to Sunday at 6 p.m. one weekend per month
  • Possessory conservator to choose which weekend, but also to give the custodial parent a minimum of 14 days’ notice of his or her choice via phone, email or snail mail
  • Expanded parenting time during your children’s summer and spring breaks

Remember, you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse have every right to devise your own parenting time schedule. The Standard Possession Order only comes into play should you fail to reach agreement. This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.