Possession Order

Jun
09

Unique Possession Orders that Work with a Fathers Profession

Many professions create impositions on conservators making a standard possession order inapplicable and unworkable. The Court may deviate from a standard possession order if the order is inappropriate or unworkable in reference to the schedules of both the conservators and the child. Unique professions and irregular school schedules for children allow the Court to have flexibility to deviate from a standard possession order that is in the Best Interest of the Child. There are multiple ways in which the Court may depart from a standard possession order to fulfill the needs of all parties involved with the custody of the child.

First, the Family Code § 153.254 states that the Court will be allowed deference to modify the standard possession order if work schedules of either conservators or the school schedule of the child is irregular. The Court must attempt to narrowly tailor the modifications to keep the new possession order as similar to the standard possession order as possible. This instance most commonly occurs when the Managing Conservator and the Possessory Conservator cannot reach an agreement and one of the two Conservators has a unique profession such as a firefighter, police officer, or airline pilot. The working hours of these jobs allow the Court to modify the standard possession order even if both of the parties do not comply with the changes. The modifications must be made only if it is in the Best Interest of the Child.

Secondly, the standard possession order may always be modified if it is by the mutual agreement of both the Managing Conservator and Possessory Conservator. Family Code § 153.007 is the Agreed Parenting Plan Statute and allows for both parties to agree on a standard possession order for the child. This statute was passed to promote amicability in settlement for child custody issues and to give flexibility to the parents if they are willing to agree on custody terms. The Agreed Parenting Plan must be in the Best Interest of the Child for the Court to approve. If the Court grants the Agreed Parenting Plan then the Managing or Possessory Conservator will have a remedy as a matter of law for any violation of the agreement committed by either party.

Finally, both Conservators may enter into a Mediated Settlement Agreement under Family Code § 153.0071. A Mediated Settlement Agreement is the only time in which the Court will NOT look at the Best Interest of the Child when granting the custody agreement.

The Mediated Settlement Agreement § 153.0071 must be:

  • In bold, underlined, and capital letters that the agreement is NOT REVOCABLE
  • Signed by Both Parties to the agreement
  • Signed by the lawyers (if represented) of each party

The Mediated Settlement Agreement is binding and not revocable so if the Conservators wish to go this route they must understand that what is in the agreement will be held as binding. This method can be used to modify or change a standard possession order and the Court will not look at the Best Interest of the Child regarding the agreement, unless there exists a credible threat of domestic violence.

These are the methods in which a unique possession order may be obtained to accommodate irregular schedules or working hours of both the conservators. Any possession order must be correctly drafted and all future contingencies must be accounted for. An experienced lawyer must be contacted to safeguard an individual’s custody rights of their children and to make sure that a fair custody arrangement is obtained.

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Jan
12

Standard Possession Orders in Texas

The possession order for both mother and father in any divorce must be in the Best Interest of the child and the Court has specific guidelines it must follow if both parents refuse to agree to custody arrangements. The Managing Conservator has primary custody of the child and the Possessory Conservator has visitation but is not the primary custodian of the child. The guidelines set forth by the Court regarding custody for parents living 100 miles or less of each other and parents that reside over 100 miles from each other are listed in the Family Code § 153.312 and § 153.313.  

Family Code § 153.312 Standard Possession Order, regarding parents who reside 100 miles or less of each other, states the Possessory Conservator will have the following rights:

  1. Have custody of the child throughout the beginning of the year at 6 p.m. on the first, third, and fifth Friday of each month and ending at 6 p.m. on the following Sunday.
  2. On Thursdays of each week during the regular school term beginning at 6 p.m. and ending at 8 p.m. unless the Court finds this is not in the best interest of the child.
  3. Custody of the Child for 30 consecutive days during the summer but the Possessory Conservator will be required to give written notice to the Managing Conservator by April 1st of each year specifying the extended period of possession for the summer. If Possessory Conservator does not give written notice on April 1st, then the Possessory Conservator shall have access to the child from 6 p.m. July 1st to 6 p.m. July 31st of each year.

Family Code § 153.313 Standard Possession Order, regarding parents who reside over 100 miles from each other, states the Possessory Conservator will have the following rights:

  1. Have custody of child throughout the beginning of the year at 6 p.m. on Friday of the first, third, and fifth weekend of each month and ending at 6 p.m. that Sunday. The Possessory Conservator may also elect an alternate weekend if he/she gives a 14-day notice either written or telephonic to the Managing Conservator.
  2. The visitations on Thursdays nights are not mandated under this section due to the distance between the two parents.
  3. Custody of Child for 42 consecutive days during the summer but the Possessory Conservator will be required to give written notice to the Managing Conservator by April 1st of each year specifying the extended period of possession for the summer. If the written notice is not given then the Possessory Conservator shall have access to the child from 6 p.m. on June 15th to 6 p.m. July 27th.

The Court shall follow these guidelines unless it is NOT in the Best Interest of the child. These guidelines are needed because of the contention between both parents and the common inability to find a middle ground when it comes to custody of a child. The Court may deviate from these standard Guidelines but only if a parent can prove by clear and convincing evidence that it is in the Best Interest of the Child. If these guidelines are unworkable because of the child’s schedule then the Court will make exceptions but attempt to keep the custody arrangements as close to the guidelines as possible. Custody issues can be vexing and straining on both parents. To ensure you receive a fair outcome to see your child, it is wise to seek an experienced attorney to ensure that the sacred right to see your child is not infringed.

By Nacol Law Firm | Possession of Children
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Shared Parenting With Texas Child Possession Orders

If only divorced parents could mutually agree on meaningful possession schedules while co-parenting their kids! But since many cannot or will not, the Texas Courts generally use a One-Size-Fits-All Standard Possession order for all children over three years of age.  The Texas Legislature over time has expanded the schedule to make access a little more flexible. Does this always squarely meet or suit the needs of a child and her/his relationship with both parents?

The Section 153.001 of the Texas Family Code is the State’s policy on possession schedules and its formation:

  1. Assure that children will have frequent and continuing contact with parents who have shown the ability to act in the best interests of their child;

  2. Provide a safe, stable, and nonviolent environment for the child;

  3. Encourage parents to share in the rights and duties of raising their child after the parents have separated or dissolved the marriage.

The Texas Family Code, section 153.002 also states that “the best interest of the child shall always be the primary consideration of the court in determining the issues of conservatorship, possession of, and access of the child”. Because of this the Texas Courts are given wide range in determining a child’s best interest in possession schedules.

What about fair and equal Parent Possession Schedules? This is easier desired than accomplished! In E. Mavis Hetherington’s book, For Better or for Worse, Three types of co-parenting relationships are identified:

  1. Conflicted: Parents have frequent conflict, communicate badly, and have difficulty disengaging emotionally from the marriage (20-25%)

  2. Parallel: Parents who emotionally disengage from each other, with little communication and who usually do not coordinate child-related issues between themselves although conflict is minimal. (Over 50%)

  3. Cooperative: Parents who work together to actively plan their children’s lives and support each other. They work toward conflict free possession schedules in a nurturing parenting situation. (25%-30%)

Despite many separation and divorce related conflicts among parents, the main beneficial recipients of shared parenting are the children. When both parents are positively engaged in the parent-child relationship, probabilities are much higher for positive adjustment, better academic achievement and positive mental development of a child.

In Johnston & Campbell’s book, Impasses of Divorce, their findings support that the majority of parents substantially reduce their pre marital conflict within 2-3 years after divorce. Regrettably, 8%-20% of parents remain in a state of chronic high conflict!

How can Parents promote or enhance shared parenting in possession schedules?

Many parents will usually find a way or the mechanism to eventually work together for the benefit of the child, no matter how contentious the divorce. Even if shared parenting is not possible, parallel co-parenting reducing conflict may be acceptable. But if the parental conflict is high, try to use and enforce a possession schedule that limits parent contact during possession exchanges of the child and accordingly reduce conflict opportunity.

Parents: Leave your conflicts at home. You are divorced!  Concentrate on what is best for your child.  You are the lifetime primary example for your child on how families communicate.  Be mature and responsible and show your child that no matter what has occurred in the past, and regardless of fault, your joint goal is an emotionally healthy child over the long haul.

 

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The Standard Child Possession Order – Texas Family Code

When parents are battling over divorce issues and child custody, they often times do not understand that the Texas Family Code has expanded the child possession order to make parents joint managing conservators with equal rights and duties and possession of the child.  It is important to keep in mind that, under certain circumstances, and depending on the age of a child, a Judge may alter the standard possession order in any way that serves the best interest of the child.

The following is an example of a standard possession order for a parent who lives within 100 miles of their child under the Texas Family Code.

IT IS ORDERED that the conservators shall have possession of the child at times mutually agreed to in advance by the parties, and, in the absence of mutual agreement, it is ORDERED that the conservators shall have possession of the child under the specified terms set out in this Standard Possession Order.

(c)        Parents Who Reside 100 Miles or Less Apart

Except as otherwise explicitly provided in this Standard Possession Order, when Possessory Conservator resides 100 miles or less from the primary residence of the child, Possessory Conservator shall have the right to possession of the child as follows:

1.         Weekends—

On weekends that occur during the regular school term, beginning at the time the child’s school is regularly dismissed on the first, third, and fifth Friday of each month and ending at the time the child’s school resumes after the weekend.

On weekends that do not occur during the regular school term, beginning at 6:00 p.m. on the first, third, and fifth Friday of each month and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the following Sunday.

2.         Weekend Possession Extended by a Holiday—Except as otherwise explicitly provided in this Standard Possession Order, if a weekend period of possession by Conservator begins on a Friday that is a school holiday during the regular school term or a federal, state, or local holiday during the summer months when school is not in session, or if the period ends on or is immediately followed by a Monday that is such a holiday, that weekend period of possession shall begin at the time the child’s school is regularly dismissed on the Thursday immediately preceding the Friday holiday or school holiday or end on that Monday holiday or school holiday at the time school resumes after that school holiday, as applicable.

3.         Thursdays—On Thursday of each week during the regular school term, beginning at the time the child’s school is regularly dismissed and ending at the time the child’s school resumes on Friday.

4.         Spring Break in Even-Numbered Years—In even-numbered years, beginning at the time the child’s school is regularly dismissed on the day the child is dismissed from school for the school’s spring vacation and ending at the time school resumes after that vacation.

5.         Extended Summer Possession by Possessory Conservator—

With Written Notice by April 1—If Possessory Conservator gives  Managing Conservator written notice by April 1 of a year specifying an extended period or periods of summer possession for that year, Possessory Conservator shall have possession of the child for thirty days beginning no earlier than the day after the child’s school is dismissed for the summer vacation and ending no later than seven days before school resumes at the end of the summer vacation in that year, to be exercised in no more than two separate periods of at least seven consecutive days each, as specified in the written notice, provided that the period or periods of extended summer possession do not interfere with Father’s Day Weekend. These periods of possession shall begin and end at 6:00 p.m.

Without Written Notice by April 1—If Possessory Conservator does not give Managing Conservator written notice by April 1 of a year specifying an extended period or periods of summer possession for that year, Possessory Conservator shall have possession of the child for thirty consecutive days in that year beginning at 6:00 p.m. on July 1 and ending at 6:00 p.m. on July 31.

Notwithstanding the Thursday periods of possession during the regular school term and the weekend periods of possession ORDERED for Possessory Conservator, it is explicitly ORDERED that Managing Conservator shall have a superior right of possession of the child as follows:

1.         Spring Break in Odd–Numbered Years—In odd-numbered years, beginning at 6:00 p.m. on the day the child is dismissed from school for the school’s spring vacation and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the day before school resumes after that vacation.

2.         Summer Weekend Possession by Managing Conservator—If Managing Conservator gives Possessory Conservator written notice by April 15 of a year, Managing Conservator shall have possession of the child on any one weekend beginning at 6:00 p.m. on Friday and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the following Sunday during any one period of the extended summer possession by Possessory Conservator in that year, provided that Managing Conservator picks up the child from Possessory Conservator and returns the child to that same place and that the weekend so designated does not interfere with Father’s Day Weekend.

3.         Extended Summer Possession by Managing Conservator—If Managing Conservator gives Possessory Conservator written notice by April 15 of a year or gives Possessory Conservator fourteen days’ written notice on or after April 16 of a year, Managing Conservator may designate one weekend beginning no earlier than the day after the child’s school is dismissed for the summer vacation and ending no later than seven days before school resumes at the end of the summer vacation, during which an otherwise scheduled weekend period of possession by Possessory Conservator shall not take place in that year, provided that the weekend so designated does not interfere with Possessory Conservator’s period or periods of extended summer possession or with Father’s Day Weekend.

(e)        Holidays Unaffected by Distance

Notwithstanding the weekend and Thursday periods of possession of Possessory Conservator, Managing Conservator and Possessory Conservator shall have the right to possession of the child as follows:

1.         Christmas Holidays in Even-Numbered Years—In even-numbered years, Possessory Conservator shall have the right to possession of the child beginning at the time the child’s school is regularly dismissed on the day the child is dismissed from school for the Christmas school vacation and ending at noon on December 28, and Managing Conservator shall have the right to possession of the child beginning at noon on December 28 and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the day before school resumes after that Christmas school vacation.

2.         Christmas Holidays in Odd-Numbered Years—In odd-numbered years, Managing Conservator shall have the right to possession of the child beginning at 6:00 p.m. on the day the child is dismissed from school for the Christmas school vacation and ending at noon on December 28, and Possessory Conservator shall have the right to possession of the child beginning at noon on December 28 and ending at the time the child’s school resumes after that Christmas school vacation.

3.         Thanksgiving in Odd-Numbered Years—In odd-numbered years, Possessory Conservator shall have the right to possession of the child beginning at the time the child’s school is regularly dismissed on the day the child is dismissed from school for the Thanksgiving holiday and ending at the time the child’s school resumes after that Thanksgiving holiday.

4.         Thanksgiving in Even-Numbered Years—In even-numbered years, Managing Conservator shall have the right to possession of the child beginning at 6:00 p.m. on the day the child is dismissed from school for the Thanksgiving holiday and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the Sunday following Thanksgiving.

5.         Child’s Birthday—If a conservator is not otherwise entitled under this Standard Possession Order to present possession of the child on the child’s birthday, that conservator shall have possession of the child and the child’s minor siblings beginning at 6:00 p.m. and ending at 8:00 p.m. on that day, provided that that conservator picks up the child from the other conservator’s residence and returns the child to that same place.

6.         Father’s Day Weekend—Father shall have the right to possession of the child each year, beginning at 6:00 p.m. on the Friday preceding Father’s Day and ending at 6:00 p.m. on Father’s Day, provided that if Father is not otherwise entitled under this Standard Possession Order to present possession of the child, he shall pick up the child from the other conservator’s residence and return the child to that same place.

7.         Mother’s Day Weekend—Mother shall have the right to possession of the child each year, beginning at 6:00 p.m. on the Friday preceding Mother’s Day and ending at 6:00 p.m. on Mother’s Day, provided that if Mother is not otherwise entitled under this Standard Possession Order to present possession of the child, she shall pick up the child from the other conservator’s residence and return the child to that same place.

(g)        General Terms and Conditions

Except as otherwise explicitly provided in this Standard Possession Order, the terms and conditions of possession of the child that apply regardless of the distance between the residence of a parent and the child are as follows:

1.         Surrender of Child by Managing Conservator—Managing Conservator is ORDERED to surrender the child to Possessory Conservator at the beginning of each period of Possessory Conservator’s possession at the residence of Managing Conservator.

If a period of possession by Possessory Conservator begins at the time the child’s school is regularly dismissed, Managing Conservator is ORDERED to surrender the child to Possessory Conservator at the beginning of each such period of possession at the school in which the child is enrolled. If the child is not in school, Possessory Conservator shall pick up the child at the residence of Managing Conservator at 6:00 p.m., and Managing Conservator is ORDERED to surrender the child to Possessory Conservator at the residence of Managing Conservator at 6:00 p.m. under these circumstances.

2.         Surrender of Child by Possessory Conservator—Possessory Conservator is ORDERED to surrender the child to Managing Conservator at the residence of Managing Conservator at the end of each period of possession.

3.         Return of Child by Possessory Conservator—Possessory Conservator is ORDERED to return the child to the residence of Managing Conservator at the end of each period of possession. However, it is ORDERED that, if Managing Conservator and Possessory Conservator live in the same county at the time of rendition of this order, Possessory Conservator’s county of residence remains the same after rendition of this order, and Managing Conservator’s county of residence changes, effective on the date of the change of residence by Managing Conservator, Possessory Conservator shall surrender the child to Managing Conservator at the residence of Possessory Conservator at the end of each period of possession.

If a period of possession by Possessory Conservator ends at the time the child’s school resumes, Possessory Conservator is ORDERED to surrender the child to Managing Conservator at the end of each such period of possession at the school in which the child is enrolled or, if the child is not in school, at the residence of Managing Conservator at [address].

4.         Surrender of Child by Possessory Conservator—Possessory Conservator is ORDERED to surrender the child to Managing Conservator, if the child is in Possessory Conservator’s possession or subject to Possessory Conservator’s control, at the beginning of each period of Managing Conservator’s exclusive periods of possession, at the place designated in this Standard Possession Order.

5.         Return of Child by Managing Conservator—Managing Conservator is ORDERED to return the child to Possessory Conservator, if Possessory Conservator is entitled to possession of the child, at the end of each of Managing Conservator’s exclusive periods of possession, at the place designated in this Standard Possession Order.

6.         Personal Effects—Each conservator is ORDERED to return with the child the personal effects that the child brought at the beginning of the period of possession.

7.         Designation of Competent Adult—Each conservator may designate any competent adult to pick up and return the child, as applicable. IT IS ORDERED that a conservator or a designated competent adult be present when the child is picked up or returned.

8.         Inability to Exercise Possession—Each conservator is ORDERED to give notice to the person in possession of the child on each occasion that the conservator will be unable to exercise that conservator’s right of possession for any specified period.

9.         Written Notice—Written notice shall be deemed to have been timely made if received or postmarked before or at the time that notice is due.

10.        Notice to School and Managing Conservator—If Possessory Conservator’s time of possession of the child ends at the time school resumes and for any reason the child is not or will not be returned to school, Possessory Conservator shall immediately notify the school and Managing Conservator that the child will not be or has not been returned to school.

This concludes the Standard Possession Order.

Again, a Judge may under varied circumstances change any provision of a Standard Possession Order.

By Nacol Law Firm | Possession of Children
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