When you and your spouse divorce in Texas and children are involved, a judge will issue a custody order that includes a visitation schedule. It may be based on a Standard Possession Order, a custom schedule that the parents create, or special requirements for children under the age of three. The option you go with will depend on your child’s needs (as well as their age) and the willingness of your spouse to create an amicable arrangement.
Standard Possession Orders
If you are not sure how to go about developing a visitation schedule, the Standard Possession Order (SPO) may help. This Texas family court document provides guidance by indicating the minimum visitation that you or your spouse are entitled to based on the circumstances of the divorce, as well as other factors. If you and the other parent need assistance in creating a fair and fulfilling visitation schedule, the SPO will help you put together an arrangement that works for everyone.
Custom Visitation Schedules
The Texas Family Code acknowledges that each family is unique and allows cooperative parents to devise their own visitation schedule, provided that it serves the best interests of the children. It is still subject to approval by the courts, but remains the best option when you and your spouse have certain availability issues and requirements and are willing to cooperate.
If you have the opportunity to create your own visitation schedule, you and your spouse will want to consider:
- The child’s age
- His or her school and social activities
- The distance between the parents’ homes
- Professional obligations that either parent may have
Visitation for Children Under Three
Even if you and your spouse plan to create your own visitation schedule, special laws apply to children under the age of three in Texas. They include a court-ordered schedule based on the presumption that younger children have different needs than their older siblings. Factors that the courts will consider include:
- The child’s age
- His or her mental and emotional development
- How long the parents have been separated
The emphasis will be on what arrangement will benefit the child the most and support a good relationship with his or her parents. Once a child turns three, the SPO or parent-created visitation schedule will come into effect.
As parents, you and your spouse have a duty to provide the best possible environment for your children, and that includes appropriate parental visitation. To learn more about creating a fair schedule that meets the needs of everyone involved, contact the experienced and supportive divorce team at Alexandra Geczi PLLC today.