After a divorce with children, the Texas divorce decree will include a
possession order that states the dates and times the non-custodial parent (parent who does
not have custody of the children) will have visitation with their children.
Most often, the attorneys and parents will agree upon the “default”
possession order, called a Standard Possession Order in Texas, that has
a typical set of visitation dates and rules. Many customized possession
orders also start with this base order and a working template. Despite
recent moves toward more customized possession schedules, including 50/50
possession schedules, the Standard Possession Order is still the most
common schedule used in Texas divorces and frequently meets all of the
needs of the parents and children without need for deviation.
Most Standard Possession Orders (SPO) will specifically refer to weekends
extended by student holidays and teacher in-service days, or they set
the beginning and end periods of possession by a parent at the time that
school begins or ends. This begs to question, which school calendar controls
when possession begins and ends?
Unless the order defines possession otherwise, “school” in
a Texas SPO means one of the following:
- the primary or secondary school where the child is enrolled; or
- if the child is not enrolled in school, the public school district where
the child resides with his or her custodial parent.
Therefore, for children who do not yet attend school, the parents must
refer to the calendar that corresponds with the public school district
where the child resides. For children who attend private school or attend
a school outside of the school district where they live, the parents should
tailor the SPO to follow the calendar of the school the child attends.
Of course, if the parents can agree on their own definition of when school
begins and ends, they can always alter the SPO to fit their own definition,
however, as possession schedules are fairly lengthy and detailed, it’s
important that they be reduced to writing and, in most cases, should be
prepared with the help of a good family lawyer or lawyers.