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 lawyer.