Texas Custody and Visitation Schedules
You can create your own custody and visitation schedule (on your own or with the other parent) or you can work with an attorney or legal professional and have them create it. If you don't want to pay the high cost of an attorney, and want to easily make your own schedule, you can use the Custody X Change software.
Custody X Change is software that creates custody schedules, calendars, and professional parenting plan documents. Use the free download to see how it can help you.
You can also use Custody X Change to:
- Explore options for your visitation schedule
- Negotiate a schedule and agreement with the other parent
- Show your attorney schedules that you like
- Prepare sample schedules and plans for mediation
- Make a schedule and plan to present in court
It is important to be familiar with the laws pertaining to conservatorship and possession when bringing a family law case before the court in the State of Texas.
These laws can be found in the Texas Family Code, Title 5, The Parent-Child Relationship and the Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship.
The law clearly defines some of the terminology used by the courts and details the requirements for the different types of conservatorship (custody).
The law also outlines the factors the court uses to determine the issues of conservatorship and the possession of and access to the child.
The law can be a very useful tool when creating a parenting plan and custody schedule.
In the State of Texas, a child visitation schedule is also called a possession and access schedule which, once approved by the court, will become a possession and access order. The terms may be used interchangeably in this article.
Regardless of what you call it, it is the policy of the State of Texas to ensure children have ongoing, frequent contact with each of his or her parents, provided the parents are suited to properly care for the child.
Your visitation / possession and access schedule should reflect that policy if you want it to be approved by the court.
Yes. The State of Texas has a standard visitation order deemed to be appropriate and was developed in accordance with the laws of the state.
Basically, the standard visitation order contains the following details, for parents that live less than one hundred miles apart (§ 153.312):
- The managing conservator (primary custodian) shall have possession of the child at all times except when the possessory conservator has access to the child.
- The possessory conservator shall have the child the first, third, and fifth weekends of every month, beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday and ending at 6 p.m. on Sunday.
- If the weekend that the possessory conservator has the child is extended due to a school holiday, the duration of the visit shall be extended by the time that school is out.
- The possessory conservator shall have the child every Thursday (during the school year), from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m.
- The possessory conservator shall have the child for the entire Spring Break vacation in even years, and the managing conservator shall have the child during Spring Break in odd years.
- The possessory conservator shall have the child for thirty days during summer vacation. The dates of the visit and the managing conservator having any visitation during that time are dependent on advance notice given by both parties.
- The holiday schedule supersedes the possession and access schedule.
- The parents generally alternate the various holidays in even and odd years, but the parent not regularly schedule for access to the child on the child's birthday shall be able to have the child from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. on that day.
You will not be obligated to comply with the standard visitation order if you are able to create your own schedule and your ex agrees with it.
The standard visitation order may work for some families, but other families may feel that a child being able to see one of his or her parents only once, for two hours, during a week long stretch is not enough parenting time for the child.
Parents who are able to work together and agree with each other are encouraged to submit their own possession and access schedule to the court. Every child is different, and as long as the parents are able to cooperate with each other for the sake of the child, the child visitation schedule may be as unique as the child is.
The possession and access schedule should contain specifications for holidays and vacations, as well as a regular residential schedule.
If the schedule is written in the child's best interest, it will be accepted by the court and the possession and access order shall be made in accordance with the wishes of the parents.
The court considers the best interests of the child to be the primary consideration when ruling on family law cases involving children (§ 153.002).
The court will consider all relevant factors when determining the child's best interests, including, but not limited to:
- The wishes of the parents as to the conservatorship of the child
- The wishes of the child as to the conservatorship, as long as the child is aged twelve or older
- The history of the child's care
- Which parent has acted as the child's primary caregiver
- The nature of the relationships between the child and each parent
- The fitness of each parent and their capacity to properly care for the child
- The physical and mental health of each parent
- The physical and mental health of the child
- The suitability of the parents' homes
- The child's adjustment to his or her home, school, church, and community
- Whether the child has any siblings
- Evidence of domestic violence, abuse, neglect, and any other issues that are detrimental to the child
- Whether or not a parent has attempted to conceal the child from the other parent
- The likeliness of each parent to help foster and encourage a relationship between the child and the other parent
- Any other factors that affect the child's best interest and well-being
The State of Texas encourages parents to work together to create parenting plans and visitation schedules for their children and has resources available to those parents that may have a hard time compromising.
If you are experiencing difficulties, the court may order you to attend mediation in an effort to resolve your differences. The mediator is an impartial party that will help you work together and reach an agreement for the sake of your child.
If you are unable to reach an agreement, the standard possession and access order will be imposed upon the family.
The top twenty cities in Texas (by population, US Census Bureau, 2008) are: Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, Fort Worth, El Paso, Arlington, Corpus Christi, Plano, Laredo, Lubbock, Garland, Irving, Amarillo, Brownsville, Grand Prairie, Pasadena, Mesquite, McAllen, Carrolltown.