What is the Standard Custody Arrangement in Texas?
The Standard Possession Order (SPO), or its extended version (the ESPO) is the basic joint custody schedule. It’s most often seen in divorce decrees and possession orders, but its terms are actually established by Texas joint custody laws. These rules establish the minimum amount of time a co parent is entitled to spend with his or her children. An SPO or ESPO is ordered in almost every child custody arrangement, sometimes even when co parents have agreed to a different schedule. This is so because Texas law wants to ensure that non-custodial parents receive at least the minimum – even if agreements disappear.
The “Custodial” parent is the one that most people would say has “primary custody” of the child — he or she has the right to possess the child most weekdays. The “non-custodial” parent is entitled to other days. For example, when Texas co parents live within 100 miles of each other, the non-custodial parent generally has the right to:
- 1st, 3rd and 5th weekends of every month
- Thursday evenings during the school year
- Alternating holidays
Holiday Custody Arrangements For Co Parents in Texas
The holiday schedule is designed to give a fair amount of time to both parents and their extended families. It also ensures one co parent doesn’t always have the same holiday. The schedule alternates to ensure custodial and non-custodial parents are both allotted times to celebrate the holidays with their children. Each year, one parent will have the children on Christmas while the other enjoys Thanksgiving and New Years. The next year, they switch.
Thanksgiving Holidays Under Texas Standard Possession Order
The Thanksgiving break operates on a year by year basis under the Texas SPO. Custodial parents are entitled to celebrating with their children on years ending with an even number while the odd years are reserved for the non-custodial parents. Thanksgiving break typically lasts from the day the children are released from school until the Sunday or Monday after Thanksgiving Day. Be sure to pay attention to your child’s school district holiday calendar as not all districts have the same schedule.
Winter Holidays Under the Texas SPO
The Texas SPO establishes the non-custodial parent has custody of his or her child for Christmas or Winter Holiday on years ending with even numbers. The visit begins the day the child is released from school for winter break. It lasts until December 28th, when the custodial parent is granted the remainder of the break to celebrate New Years with their children. The next year, it flips.
Spring Break and Other Holidays
Under the normal SPO, the non-custodial parent is entitled to custody during the week of Spring Break during even years while the custodial parent is given custody on the odd years. Being one of the most difficult holidays to track, Spring Break often varies depending on your child’s school district.
Summer Break under Texas Standard Possession Order
Non-custodial parents who live within 100 miles of the custodial parents get 30 consecutive days of possession. The particular days can be elected if the non-custodial parent provides notice (before April 1st) selecting dates. If the non-custodial parent fails to meet the April 1st deadline, the month of July will automatically serve as the designated time allotted to the non-custodial parent.
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Simplify Your Life with Our Days Calendar
If you’ve been directed to follow a the Texas SPO or ESPO, you understand how complicated it can be simply to understand where your children will be on weekends and holidays. Our Days Calendar is built around the Texas Standard Possession Order so you don’t have to count weekends anymore. You can have a color-coded joint custody calendar that actually reflects Texas law. It’s easy to set up and easy to customize for your family. Best of all, you can see where your children will be in three days, three weeks, or even three months.
We would like to thank the following online digital reference materials:
Texas Law Help.org, funded by Texas Access to Justice Foundation and Texas Bar Foundation.
Olowska & Pierre Inc., Custody & Visitation Schedule
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Easy to understand, and easy to use tool.