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Should I seek a 50/50 possession schedule?

Legislation was certainly proposed recently for “Equal Parenting Time” (Texas House Bill 453) but it did not land on the governor’s desk to be signed into law.

For now, our legislature presumes that the “standard possession schedule” is in the best interest of the child (or children), and suggests that this particular possession schedule provides for the reasonable minimum possession for a parent subject to this schedule. You can easily find this schedule in chapter 153 of the Texas Family Code. This statute also states that this schedule is subject to a rebuttable presumption, so you will want to always thoroughly discuss your particular situation with your attorney to see if there may be factors to deviate from this standard possession schedule.

So, what exactly is a standard possession schedule? You may have heard the terms “standard possession schedule”, “standard possession order”, “SPO”, or “1st, 3rd, and 5th weekends” – well, all of these refer to same thing- the standard possession order contained in chapter 153 of the Texas Family Code.

Generally, the standard possession schedule provides for the parent subject to the schedule (sometimes referred to as the “possessory conservator”) to have the child (or children, as the case may be) on the 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekends (Friday through Sunday) of each month, and also on Thursdays from 6pm to 8pm of each week during the regular school year. Summer and holiday possession schedules are also outlined in the Texas Family Code, and usually the parents, or conservators, of the child alternate various holidays, such as Thanksgiving or Christmas.

But, what if you think it would be in the best interest of your children to have a 50/50 possession schedule? Or another variation of the standard possession order?

This is where lawyering can become creative. The term “50/50” or “equal parenting” can have many different schedule variations. For example, it could mean alternating weeks so that each parent would have 7 consecutive days (“week on/week off”), or it could be a schedule where each parent has a few days per week (what we commonly call a “2-2-3” or “2-2-5”). There are a lot of different schedules that can be proposed to customize what might work best in your particular situation. You will want to thoroughly discuss this with your attorney, so that he or she can best present your wishes to the court. Ultimately, any possession schedule must be in the best interests of your child, as the “best interest of the child” is the guiding consideration when children are involved in family court litigation.

What are some considerations when you’re thinking about an equal parenting schedule? The following are some questions or points to consider:

  • Is equal parenting best for your child?
  • Is equal parenting best for you and your situation (ex. your individual work schedule, or the needs of your other children or family members)?
  • Which parent has assumed the primary caretaking responsibilities of the child?
  • How well are you able to co-parent with your ex-spouse (or the other parent)?
  • Is your residence in close proximity to the other parent, or the school that the child attends?
  • Has there been a professional recommendation by a custody evaluator?

Lastly, please keep in mind that just because parents equally share possession times with their children, the court may still order child support to be paid from one parent to another. We commonly see the courts ordering an “offset” in child support when parents deviate from the standard possession schedule. This can mean a few different things, so be sure to speak with your attorney about how the particular court you are in may handle child support when an equal parenting schedule is ordered.

The attorneys at Justice Law Firm are experienced in all matters relating to possession and access schedules, and would be happy to discuss any and all questions you may have.

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