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Texas' Standard Custody Order

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Texas Standard Possession Order (PDF version)

Possession and Access

1. Standard Possession Order

The Court finds that the following provisions of this Standard Possession Order are intended to and do comply with the requirements of Texas Family Code sections 153.311 through 153.317. IT IS ORDERED that each conservator shall comply with all terms and conditions of this Standard Possession Order. IT IS ORDERED that this Standard Possession Order is effective immediately and applies to all periods of possession occurring on and after the date the Court signs this Standard Possession Order. IT IS, THEREFORE, ORDERED:

(a) Definitions

1. In this Standard Possession Order "school" means the primary or secondary school in which the child is enrolled or, if the child is not enrolled in a primary or secondary school, the public school district in which the child primarily resides.

2. In this Standard Possession Order "child" includes each child, whether one or more, who is a subject of this suit while that child is under the age of eighteen years and not otherwise emancipated.

(b) Mutual Agreement or Specified Terms for Possession

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 Mother resides 100 miles or less from the primary residence of the child, Mother shall have the right to possession of the child as follows:

1. Weekends - On weekends, 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 Mother 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 6:00 p.m. on the Thursday immediately preceding the Friday holiday or school holiday or end at 6:00 p.m. on that Monday holiday or school holiday, as applicable.

3. Thursdays - On Thursday of each week during the regular school term, beginning at 6:00 p.m. and ending at 8:00 p.m.

4. Spring Break in Even-Numbered Years - In even-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.

5. Extended Summer Possession by Mother -

With Written Notice by April 1 - If Mother gives Father written notice by April 1 of a year specifying an extended period or periods of summer possession for that year, Mother 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 Mother does not give Father written notice by April 1 of a year specifying an extended period or periods of summer possession for that year, Mother 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 weekend and Thursday periods of possession ORDERED for Mother, it is explicitly ORDERED that Father 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 Father - If Father gives Mother written notice by April 15 of a year, Father 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 Mother in that year, provided that Father picks up the child from Mother and returns the child to that same place.

3. Extended Summer Possession by Father - If Father gives Mother written notice by April 15 of a year or gives Mother fourteen days' written notice on or after April 16 of a year, Father 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 Mother shall not take place in that year, provided that the weekend so designated does not interfere with Mother's period or periods of extended summer possession.

(d) Parents Who Reside More Than 100 Miles Apart

Except as otherwise explicitly provided in this Standard Possession Order, when Mother resides more than 100 miles from the residence of the child, Mother shall have the right to possession of the child as follows:

1. Weekends - Unless Mother elects the alternative period of weekend possession described in the next paragraph, Mother shall have the right to possession of the child on weekends, 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. Except as otherwise explicitly provided in this Standard Possession Order, if such a weekend period of possession by Mother 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 6:00 p.m. on the Thursday immediately preceding the Friday holiday or school holiday or end at 6:00 p.m. on that Monday holiday or school holiday, as applicable.

Alternate Weekend Possession - In lieu of the weekend possession described in the foregoing paragraph, Mother shall have the right to possession of the child not more than one weekend per month of Mother's choice beginning at 6:00 p.m. on the day school recesses for the weekend and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the day before school resumes after the weekend. Except as otherwise explicitly provided in this Standard Possession Order, if such a weekend period of possession by Mother 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 6:00 p.m. on the Thursday immediately preceding the Friday holiday or school holiday or end at 6:00 p.m. on that Monday holiday or school holiday, as applicable. Mother may elect an option for this alternative period of weekend possession by giving written notice to Father within ninety days after the parties begin to reside more than 100 miles apart. If Mother makes this election, Mother shall give Father fourteen days' written or telephonic notice preceding a designated weekend. The weekends chosen shall not conflict with the provisions regarding Christmas, Thanksgiving, the child's birthday, and Father's Day Weekend below.

2. Spring Break in All Years - Every year, 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.

3. Extended Summer Possession by Mother -

With Written Notice by April 1 - If Mother gives Father written notice by April 1 of a year specifying an extended period or periods of summer possession for that year, Mother shall have possession of the child for forty-two 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 Mother does not give Father written notice by April 1 of a year specifying an extended period or periods of summer possession for that year, Mother shall have possession of the child for forty-two consecutive days beginning at 6:00 p.m. on June 15 and ending at 6:00 p.m. on July 27 of that year.

Notwithstanding the weekend periods of possession ORDERED for Mother, it is explicitly ORDERED that Father shall have a superior right of possession of the child as follows:

1. Summer Weekend Possession by Father - If Father gives Mother written notice by April 15 of a year, Father 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 possession by Mother during Mother's extended summer possession in that year, provided that if a period of possession by Mother in that year exceeds thirty days, Father may have possession of the child under the terms of this provision on any two nonconsecutive weekends during that period and provided that Father picks up the child from Mother and returns the child to that same place.

2. Extended Summer Possession by Father - If Father gives Mother written notice by April 15 of a year, Father may designate twenty-one 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, during which Mother shall not have possession of the child, provided that the period or periods so designated do not interfere with Mother's period or periods of extended summer possession.

(e) Holidays Unaffected by Distance

Notwithstanding the weekend and Thursday periods of possession of Mother, Father and Mother shall have the right to possession of the child as follows:

1. Christmas Holidays in Even-Numbered Years - In even-numbered years, Mother 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 26, and Father 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, Father 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 26, and Mother shall have the right to possession of the child beginning at noon on December 286 and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the day before the child's school resumes after that Christmas school vacation.

3. Thanksgiving in Odd-Numbered Years - In odd-numbered years, Mother 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.

4. Thanksgiving in Even-Numbered Years - In even-numbered years, Father 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 parent is not otherwise entitled under this Standard Possession Order to present possession of the child on the child's birthday, that parent shall have possession of the child beginning at 6:00 p.m. and ending at 8:00 p.m. on that day, provided that that parent picks up the child from the other parent'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 Mother'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 Father's residence and return the child to that same place.

(f) Undesignated Periods of Possession

Father shall have the right of possession of the child at all other times not specifically designated in this Standard Possession Order for Mother.

(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 Father - Father is ORDERED to surrender the child to Mother at the beginning of each period of Mother's possession at the residence of Father.

2. Surrender of Child by Mother - Mother is ORDERED to surrender the child to Father at the residence of Mother at the end of each period of possession.

3. Surrender of Child by Mother - Mother is ORDERED to surrender the child to Father, if the child is in Mother's possession or subject to Mother's control, at the beginning of each period of Father's exclusive periods of possession, at the place designated in this Standard Possession Order.

4. Return of Child by Father - Father is ORDERED to return the child to Mother, if Mother is entitled to possession of the child, at the end of each of Father's exclusive periods of possession, at the place designated in this Standard Possession Order.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

This concludes the Standard Possession Order.

2. Duration

The periods of possession ordered above apply to the child the subject of this suit while that child is under the age of eighteen years and not otherwise emancipated.

3. Termination of Orders

The provisions of this decree relating to conservatorship, possession, or access terminate on the remarriage of Father to Mother unless a nonparent or agency has been appointed conservator of the child under chapter 153 of the Texas Family Code.

4. Long-Distance Access and Visitation

IT IS ORDERED that, until a child reaches the age of five years, the following arrangements for the travel of that child shall control:

Adult to Accompany Child - IT IS ORDERED that Mother shall travel with the child between the residence of Father and that of Mother at the beginning and end of each period of possession. In place of this requirement, Mother is authorized to designate a responsible adult known to the child to travel with the child between the residence of Father and that of Mother. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the child shall not travel alone between the residence of Father and that of Mother until the child reaches the age of five years.

Expenses Shared by Mother and Father - IT IS ORDERED that Mother shall pay all travel expenses, charges, escort fees, and air fares incurred for the child for transportation from the residence of Father to that of Mother. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Father shall pay all travel expenses, charges, escort fees, and air fares incurred for the child for transportation from the residence of Mother to that of Father.

IT IS ORDERED that the following provisions shall govern the arrangements for the travel of the child to and from Mother after the child reaches the age of five years.

Notice of Place and Time of Possession - IT IS ORDERED that, if Mother desires to take possession of the child at an airport near Mother's residence, Mother shall state these facts in a notice letter to Father:

(a) the airport where Father is to surrender the child;

(b) the date and time of the flight on which the child is scheduled to leave; and

(c) the airline and flight number of the airplane on which the child is scheduled to leave.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, if Father desires to take possession of the child at an airport near Father's residence, Father shall state these facts in a notice letter to Mother:

(a) the airport where Mother is to surrender the child;

(b) the date and time of the flight on which the child is scheduled to leave; and

(c) the airline and flight number of the airplane on which the child is scheduled to leave.

Flight Arrangements - IT IS ORDERED that each conservator shall make airline reservations for the child only on major commercial passenger airlines on flights having no change of airplanes between the airport of departure and the airport of final arrival (a "nonequipment change flight"). IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that each conservator shall make airline reservations for the child on flights that depart from a commercial airport near the residence of the other conservator that offers regularly scheduled passenger flights to various cities throughout the United States on major commercial passenger airlines.

Delivery and Pickup by Father - IT IS ORDERED that Father shall deliver the child to the airport from which the child is scheduled to leave at the beginning of each period of possession at least one hour before the scheduled departure time. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Father shall surrender the child to a flight attendant who is employed by the airline and who will be flying on the same flight on which the child is scheduled.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Father shall take possession of the child at the end of Mother's period of possession at the airport where the child is scheduled to return and at the specific airport gate where the passengers from the child's scheduled flight disembark.

Pickup and Return by Mother - IT IS ORDERED that Mother shall take possession of the child at the beginning of each period of possession at the airport where the child is scheduled to arrive and at the specific airport gate where the passengers from the child's scheduled flight disembark.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Mother, at the end of each period of possession, shall deliver the child to the airport where the child is scheduled to depart at least one hour before the scheduled departure time and surrender the child to a flight attendant who is employed by the airline and who will be flying on the same flight on which the child is scheduled to return.

Missed Flights - IT IS ORDERED that any conservator who has possession of the child at the time shall notify the other conservator immediately if the child is not placed on a scheduled flight at the beginning or end of a period of possession. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, if the child should miss a scheduled flight, the conservator having possession of the child when the flight is missed shall schedule another nonequipment change flight for the child as soon as is possible after the originally scheduled flight and shall pay any additional expense associated with the changed flight and give the other conservator notice of the date and time of that flight.

Expenses Shared by Mother and Father - IT IS ORDERED that Mother shall purchase in advance the airline tickets (including escort fees) to be used by the child for the child's flight from the airport near the residence of Father to the airport near the residence of Mother. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Mother shall make the necessary arrangements with the airlines and with Father in order that the airline tickets are available to the child before a scheduled flight. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Father shall purchase in advance the airline tickets (including escort fees) to be used by the child for the child's flight from the airport near the residence of Mother to the airport near the residence of Father. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Father shall make the necessary arrangements with the airlines and with Mother in order that the airline tickets are available to the child before a scheduled flight.

Miscellaneous Expenses - IT IS ORDERED that the expenses of a conservator incurred in traveling to and from an airport, as well as related parking and baggage-handling expenses, are the sole responsibility of the conservator delivering or receiving the child at the airport.

5. Notice to Peace Officers

NOTICE TO ANY PEACE OFFICER OF THE STATE OF TEXAS: YOU MAY USE REASONABLE EFFORTS TO ENFORCE THE TERMS OF CHILD CUSTODY SPECIFIED IN THIS ORDER. A PEACE OFFICER WHO RELIES ON THE TERMS OF A COURT ORDER AND THE OFFICER'S AGENCY ARE ENTITLED TO THE APPLICABLE IMMUNITY AGAINST ANY CLAIM, CIVIL OR OTHERWISE, REGARDING THE OFFICER'S GOOD FAITH ACTS PERFORMED IN THE SCOPE OF THE OFFICER'S DUTIES IN ENFORCING THE TERMS OF THE ORDER THAT RELATE TO CHILD CUSTODY. ANY PERSON WHO KNOWINGLY PRESENTS FOR ENFORCEMENT AN ORDER THAT IS INVALID OR NO LONGER IN EFFECT COMMITS AN OFFENSE THAT MAY BE PUNISHABLE BY CONFINEMENT IN JAIL FOR AS LONG AS TWO YEARS AND A FINE OF AS MUCH AS $10,000.