Many of my clients’ biggest concerns when contemplating divorce is what access to their children will be after the marriage ends. The first thing I tell my clients is to not worry: provided there are no issues related to the children’s safety, the State of Texas wants a divorced parent to have enough access and be an involved parent. If you want to be an involved parent, the law will support you and your ex-spouse, most likely, will not be able to prevent you from seeing your kids. But how exactly does the law divide up the time with the Children?
In many cases the parties can come to an agreement on a specific schedule that works with their family and circumstances. Texas Courts generally accept and approve a schedule of visitation that the parents create by agreement. In cases where the parents cannot agree, the most common visitation schedule for the non-custodial parent is called the Standard Possession Order. It grants the non-custodial parent time with the child every Thursday evening during the school year, and the every first, third, and fifth weekend of each month beginning at 6:00 p.m. on Friday and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the following Sunday. In addition to these times, the non-custodial parent also has the children 30 days in the summer, a week during Christmas break, and alternating spring breaks and Thanksgivings.
For non-custodial parents that would like even more time with the children they can request the Court put them on Expanded Standard Possession Schedule. If awarded, the Expanded Standard Possession Schedule, the non custodial parent can elect to keep the children over night on Thursday and their weekend possession can be extended to the time school resumes Monday morning. Expanded Standard also increases the time available for holidays.
Furthermore, if the non-custodial parent believes that even the Expanded Standard Possession schedule is not enough time with the children, that parent can negotiate an agreement for more time with the other parent or ask the Court for a schedule that divides the time with the children 50/50. At the end of the day, it is important to understand that when choosing to get a divorce, it does not mean giving up a parents ability to have meaningful time with their children.