Standard Possession Order (SPO)

In Texas, a Standard Possession Order (SPO) is a default custody arrangement following divorce or separation. The SPO allows parents to decide parenting time schedules when both agree. It also outlines a standard visitation schedule for the non-custodial parent.

The court can choose to deviate from the standard schedule and create a customized custody arrangement when it’s in the child’s best interest.

What Is a Standard Possession Order?

A possession order is a court order that outlines when each parent has a right to spend time with the child.

In Texas, the Standard Possession Order (SPO) is used in most cases if the child is age three or older. The SPO allows parents to decide parenting time schedules when both agree. The Standard Possession Order (SPO) outlines times when the non-custodial parent is allowed visitation in the event the parents don’t agree.

The court can create a modified custody arrangement if the SPO is not in the child’s best interests.

Relevant law: Texas Family Code 153.252

How an SPO Works in Texas

The Standard Possession Order in Texas typically works as follows when parents live within 50 miles of each other.

Weekend Possession

The non-custodial parent is typically entitled to possession of the child on the first, third, and fifth weekends of each month, beginning on Friday at 6:00 PM and ending on Sunday at 6:00 PM. This weekend possession allows the non-custodial parent to spend quality time with the child during weekends.

Thursday Visitation

In addition to weekend possession, the non-custodial parent may have visitation with the child every Thursday during the school year, from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM. This mid-week visitation provides the non-custodial parent with additional time to maintain a meaningful relationship with the child.

Holiday Possession

The SPO includes provisions for holiday possession, allowing both parents to share holidays and special occasions with the child. For example, the SPO typically alternates major holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day between the parents.

Summer Possession

During the summer months, the non-custodial parent typically has extended possession of the child for a specified period, which may vary depending on the terms of the SPO. This extended summer possession allows the non-custodial parent to spend more time with the child during the summer break from school.

Flexibility and Modifications

While the Standard Possession Order provides a default schedule for child custody arrangements, parents have the flexibility to modify the schedule by mutual agreement or by seeking court approval for modifications. Parents may choose to customize the possession schedule to accommodate work schedules, travel plans, or the child’s extracurricular activities.

Relevant law: Texas Family Code 153.

Conclusion

Ultimately, the goal of the Standard Possession Order in Texas is to promote co-parenting and cooperation between parents while prioritizing the best interests of the child. Parents are encouraged to work together to create a custody arrangement that fosters a supportive and nurturing environment for their child, even if it deviates from the standard schedule outlined in the SPO.

If disputes arise regarding custody or visitation, parents can seek guidance from family law professionals or the court to resolve issues and ensure that the child’s needs are met.