About Child Visitation
CHILD VISITATION AND STANDARD POSSESSION ORDERS
In Texas, “conservatorship” is the responsibility and right to make decisions concerning a child’s education, healthcare, financial needs and other matters. In many final decrees, the parents are appointed Joint Managing Conservators, which gives each of the parents substantially similar rights and duties with respect to the children. Conservatorship is often confused with the well known term “custody”, but they are not the same thing.
“Possession”, means having physical custody of the child. A decree will designate times were each parent will have the right to possession of a child. A person with possession is referred to as a “possessory conservator”. This is the right often referred to as child visitation. Many people talk about joint possession as the right of parties to have essentially a 50/50 right to possession, and although a modified possession order sometimes provide for this shared possession, it is getting rare to see such arrangements. Courts have found this back and forth to be hard on the children and difficult to enforce.
Most often the decree provides that one parent will have the sole right to determine where the child lives. This right is often combined with the sole right to make education decisions. The other parent will be provided possession to the child pursuant to a child visitation schedule.
Conservatorship and possession are often areas of disagreement for parents, irrespective of whether they have been married. In some circumstances, grandparents and non-related persons have standing to file suit for “possession” of a child. If you are seeking a court order regarding any of these matters, it is important that you fully understand your rights under the law with regard to child visitation.
TEXAS VISITATION LAW
The Texas legislature has set forth a presumptive fair schedule for parental “possession” of a child called the Standard Possession Order. Once conservatorship has been determined, the Standard Possession Order can be modified through agreement by the parties in order to accommodate different holidays for people of different faiths or for other scheduling problems. The Standard Possession Order takes into account situations where parents live over 100 miles from each other and varies the possession times accordingly. Many decrees also provide for additional phone and electronic communications between parent and child to supplement the child visitation schedule.
It is important to be fully familiar with a Possession Order and all of its provisions for child visitation before it is agreed to. Keep in mind that it is only “presumed” fair and circumstances dictate that the possession order be modified. Sometimes the possession order becomes unworkable after the fact, and it becomes necessary to apply to the court for a modification of possession. An experienced lawyer with our firm can explain the Standard Possession Order and help you with any changes when the standard order doesn’t fully provide one parent sufficient child visitation.
Our legal team is skilled in all matters of family law and we take seriously our responsibility to preserve the relationship between parent and child. We understand how important these relationships are to the happiness and emotional growth of a child. Call Chernoff Law to speak with a compassionate lawyer regarding the options available to you.