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Visitation in Texas

When parents of young children separate in the Fort Worth, Texas, and Tarrant, Texas, areas separate, they often want to know about the future of their children above all other matters. Those parents should understand the things that affect child custody and visitation decisions. In Texas, the custom is to assign parenting rights and responsibilities to both parents barring some compelling reason to the contrary. The formal decree that details those rights and responsibilities is called a Standard Possession Order (SPO).

An SPO will establish which parent has primary custody of the couple's children and which parent will get visitation. The noncustodial parent's visitation is based in part on how far they live from the custodial parent. If they live within 100 miles of the custodial parent, they will get visitation on the first, the third and the fifth weekend of each month. They will also get Thursday evening each week, alternating holidays, like Christmas every other year and about 30 days during the Summers.

If the noncustodial parent lives more than 100 miles apart, the weekend schedule might remain the same but might be reduced to only one weekend each month. There will also be no Thursday visitation. The alternating holidays visitation will stay the same, and the noncustodial parent will get the children each spring break and about 42 days in the summers.

Courts modify SPOs based on what they contend to be the best interests of the children. A key example is if the children are under 3 years old, in which case the visitation that the noncustodial parent has with those children until the children are older, at which point the visitation will be increased to the level specified above. Modified SPOs may also be made if the noncustodial parent has had little or no contact with the children and are called Modified Possession Orders (MPO).

Source: The Attorney General of Texas, "Handbook for Non-Custodial Parents," accessed Nov. 08, 2017

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