Visitation & Possession Attorneys, Houston TX
In addition to custody, one of the biggest battles in a family law case is possession and access of the children. Texas has a standard schedule that is usually employed in most cases. Because the primary concern of the court is doing what is in the best interest of the child, there are many instances when the standard schedule is inappropriate or unworkable for the child in question.
Visitation or Possession
Generally, visitation can be as agreed between the parents. Absent such an agreement, the default visitation schedule is called the Standard Possession Order, or SPO for short. Essentially, the non-custodial parent has access to the child on the first, third and fifth Friday of each month from 6:00 p.m. until the following Sunday at 6:00 p.m. They will also usually have one mid-week period of possession (usually Thursday from 6-8), alternating holidays, and a month in the summer. This schedule can be expanded, where the non-custodial parent will be able to have the child from the time the child is regularly dismissed from school until the time school starts on Monday on their weekends. This is a very simplify explanation of the SPO so seeking the advice of counsel is crucial.
Parties can agree to a number of creative visitation schedules that work best for their particular circumstances. If one parent works shift work, then an SPO would often not work, and they could be deprived of adequate visitation for their child. Parents and courts can develop a schedule that works for these unusual situations in order to ensure the child and the parent have a reasonable opportunity to build a strong relationship.
If a parent has been found to be guilty of neglect or abuse, or there are problems with substance abuse, then supervised visitation might be the best option for that parent. A supervising entity might be a person that the parties agree is capable of monitoring visits. In some more extreme cases, visitations might occur at a facility that is specially designed to support supervised visits.
Modifying Visitation Orders
Visitation schedules can always be changed. In fact, most parties can agree to tweak the schedule without having to resort to court. For example, if a party has to travel out of town on the weekend they are normally entitled to possession, they might agree to swap weekends with the other parent. As long as the parents agree, and the changes are small, there is no need to modify the orders.
However, if there is a material and substantial change in circumstances, a court order modifying the schedule is warranted. Unless the parties agree to the changed schedule, the party requesting the change carries the burden of proof to show that the order should be changed. Sometimes this can involve getting a new job that has an unusual schedule, like working offshore for a period of weeks. Sometimes, the relocation or one parent might be involved.
How We Can Help
Our team handles modification of custody orders, support and visitation orders frequently. We can help craft a workable solution or represent you in court. All parents have the right to develop a meaningful relationship with their child and they get the opportunity to do so through visitation. We can fight for the best possible visitation schedule for your family.