The standard possession order (SPO) schedule and sample order language embedded below (also here) explains a non-custodial parent’s visitation rights to see their child. It is the most popular type of child possession schedule in Texas and can be found in many parents’ Attorney General orders and divorce decrees. Besides the SPO, there are other possession schedules such as Expanded SPOs and Week-on-Week-of possession orders, but the SPO is the most common possession schedule attorneys and judges will insert into a custody order. The Texas Legislature drafted the SPO to be the default court order to help separated or divorced parents share physical possession of their kids. It is not a 50-50 schedule, the custodial parent will still have more time with the child. It does however strive to balance out possession so that a child sees each parent at least every other week and for every other holiday. The Legislature’s codified version of the SPO can be found here. Parents can agree to not follow the SPO in their court order, but parents who cannot agree on visitation should follow the SPO or seek a modification to change it as not in their child’s best interest. Separated parents who do not have an SPO or any possession order over their child are left trusting each other to work out a schedule on their own. This is sometimes where the problems start.
Holiday Schedule for Texas Standard Possession Order:
Sample Texas “Standard Possession Order” (& En Español)
Below is a sample Standard Possession Order (also available here) divorcing or separating parents may use to solve their possession and access schedule issues. This document is for information purposes only and is not legal advice. Please consult a knowledgeable attorney on your possession rights. This document is also available in Spanish for those with limited English.
Holidays & Extended Summer Possession Periods in a Nutshell.
Christmas And New Years
- Per the SPO, the non-custodial parent is entitled to possession of their child on even years beginning at 6:00 p.m. on the day the child is dismissed from school for Christmas break and ending at 12:00 p.m. noon on December 28. The custodial parent exercises the same Christmas possession period on odd years when the parents swap Christmas and New Years. After the non-custodial parent finishes their Christmas possession on even years, the custodial parent exercises their New Year possession on December 28 at noon until 6:00 p.m. on the day before school resumes in early January.
- For Thanksgiving break the custodial parent exercises possession on even years, while the non-custodial has possession on odd years, starting from 6:00 p.m. the day school is dismissed for break until 6:00 p.m. on the Sunday after Thanksgiving Day. Simply put, whichever parent has Christmas possession does not have Thanksgiving break. The reverse is also true, whichever parent has Thanksgiving does not get to exercise the Christmas break possession period.
- Summer periods of possession is one of the best times non-custodial parents can bond with their kids due to the long possession period. The SPO entitles the non-custodial parent who lives within 100 miles from the child to select up to 30 consecutive summer days to spend with the child (although the custodial parent can elect one weekend during his time for her possession!), so long as he gives the custodial parent written notice by April 1 of the dates he intends to exercise. The rules differ slightly for non-custodial parents who live over 100 miles from the child. Non-custodial parents who do not give notice of their 30 days on time are automatically given the month of July for their summer possessions.
- When it comes to spring break, the non-custodial parent is entitled to the week of spring break on even years, from 6:00 p.m. on the day school is dismissed for break until 6:00 p.m. on the day before school resumes. The custodial parent gets the same spring break time on odd years.
Father’s And Mother’s Days
- Under an SPO each parent gets the weekend around their respective Father’s or Mother’s day holidays.
Visit Our YouTube Channel Video Library to Learn More About Child Possession and Access
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Major Texas Area School District Calendars
Since possession orders traditionally depend on the use of school district calendars when determining possession start and end times, especially for holidays and summer possessions, it is very important that parents know and understand the dates on their child’s school district calendar. Parents should remember to utilize the school district calendar where their child resides. Parents should visit their ISD’s own website to ensure they have the most recent version of their child’s school district calendar.
School Districts</h3 >
- Austin AISD School District Calendar
- Aldine Independent School District Calendar
- Arlington Independent School District Calendar
- CyFair ISD Texas
- Dallas ISD School District Calendar
- Fort Bend Calendar
- Houston Independent School District Calendar
- Katy ISD School District Calendar
- Montgomery County ISD Calendar