Child custody is usually a complex and difficult subject. If you are going through the custody process in Texas for the first time, you probably have many questions.
You must learn to understand the terminology used in custody cases, what standard the court uses when determining custody and what your chances are of receiving the custody arrangement you want.
Texas refers to custody orders as possession orders and there are various types of possession orders.
Standard possession order
The first type of possession order is called a standard possession order. Texas courts assume that a standard possession order is in the best interest of the child when a child is age 3 or older.
A standard possession order states that you and the other parent can have possession of the child when you both agree. If you cannot agree, one parent will have primary possession and one parent will have partial possession.
The times of partial possession depend on how far apart you and the other parent live from one another.
The distance factor
If you live within 50 miles of one another, the parent with partial possession is awarded most weekends, alternating holidays and a 30-day period in the summer.
This schedule changes slightly if you and the other parent live within 100 miles of each other or more than 100 miles apart. The modifications typically reduce the number of weekends the parent with partial possession receives and take away midweek visits in cases where parents are more than 100 miles apart.
Children under the age 3
It is important to remember that the standard possession order is only applicable to children over age 3. The standard possession order does not apply to children under the age of 3 because it is presumed that this type of schedule is not in the best interest of a child that young.
However, you and the other parent are always free to agree on whatever the two of you want. You can choose to do the standard possession order schedule when your child is under the age of 3 if you want. The courts cannot deny you and the other parent your right to do what you think is best for your child, if you both agree on it.
Modified possession order
The second type of possession order is called a modified possession order. In its simplest terms, a modified possession order is any possession order with terms that are different from the standard possession order.
There may be many reasons that a standard possession order does not work for you and your co-parent. Work schedules or other obligations can make the standard possession order schedule impractical or impossible.
Your modified possession order schedule can involve a week-on-week off schedule, alternating weekends or even one parent only having daytime visits with no overnights. It is whatever works for you.
Supervised possession order
A third type of possession order is a supervised possession order. This involves one parent’s time with the child being supervised by a third party.
Supervised possession orders are put in place when the court feels one parent is a danger to the child, but does not feel the parent’s time with the child should be taken away altogether.
The court is required to consider a history of family violence when making possession order decisions. If you are seeking a supervised possession order, be prepared to provide evidence of family violence. A supervised possession order is hard to get without evidence that the child would be in danger of physical harm from the other parent.
Everyone’s situation is different and the possession order that is best for you and your child will take some thought.