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Most parents going through a divorce, who are at the initial stages of a child custody dispute, spend considerable time trying to understand how Texas family courts will order the amount of time that the children will spend with each parent.

Keep in mind that TX judges almost always support a schedule that is agreed-upon by the parents, so it is to everybody’s benefit that the parents each take a position to ensure the other parent has an appropriate amount of time with the children.

However, when parents are not able to come to an agreement, the family courts in San Antonio, look to Texas statutes to determine the scheduling of the children with each parent.

father and son with primary custody in San Antonio, TX

Having reliable legal representation is vital if you are bracing to negotiate your parental rights with your spouse soon. An experienced San Antonio child custody lawyer from Knowlton Law Firm can provide guidance, security, and peace of mind regarding some of Texas's most challenging aspects of child custody cases.

The Knowlton Law Firm will work directly with you to determine a child custody schedule that works for all parties involved. Contact our law office by calling (210) 361-6990.

How Do Child Custody Schedules Work in Texas?

In Texas, it is presumed to be in the best interest of the child that one parent is designated as a primary parent while the other parent is placed on a standard possession order. Because of this codified presumption, family court in Texas, is likely to order a schedule consistent with a standard possession order.

What are Standard Possession Orders in Texas?

For parents in TX who live within 100 miles from each other, the parent who is given a standard possession order, that is, the non-primary parent, or whom the law calls the possessory parent, will have possession of their child on the first, third and fifth weekends of the month, beginning on Friday at 6 PM and ending on Sunday at 6 PM.

To determine which weekend is the first, third or fifth, we always look to whether the Friday of that weekend is the first, third or fifth Friday of the month.

For example, if a Friday falls on the last day of the month, that weekend will be considered the fifth weekend even though Saturday and Sunday are the first and second days of the next month and the following weekend will be considered a first weekend, therefore creating two weekends in a row for the possessory parent. This fifth weekend typically appears every few months.

Included in a Texas standard possession order are periods of possession from 6 PM to 8 PM on every Thursday evening throughout the school year. These are commonly referred to as Dinner Dates.

Schools & Holiday Breaks in Texas

The standard possession order also divides up:

  • Spring break
  • Thanksgiving
  • The winter holidays

Alternating Holidays in Texas

Spring break and Thanksgiving alternate each year, with the mother having spring break and the father having Thanksgiving on odd years.

  • That arrangement flips on even years where the father has spring break, and the mother has Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving and spring break in TX each began when school is released for the holiday and ends at 6 PM on the Sunday before school resumes.

Winter break also alternates, with the mother having the first period of time followed by the father having the second period of time on odd years.

  • Conversely, on even years, the father has the first period of time followed by the mother who has the second period of time.
  • The first period of time for winter break begins when school lets out for winter break. The second period of time begins on December 28th at noon and ends at 6 PM on Sunday, the day before school resumes.

These dates supersede a regular first, third, or fifth weekend and if a parent would normally have possession of the child the weekend that holiday ends, they would keep possession of the child until when they would normally return the child.

Teacher Workdays

Also included for the possessory conservator in the standard position order are teacher workdays when those workdays are Fridays or Mondays that butt up against that parent’s first, third and fifth weekend, which are, practically speaking, holidays for children. If the workday is on a Monday of the possessory parent’s normal weekend, possession will extend until 6pm on Monday. If the workday is on a Friday of the possessory parent’s normal weekend, possession will extend back to Thursday at 6pm and through Friday and the weekend.

Summer Break and Texas Child Custody Schedules

Summer possession is more complicated to explain than the other holidays in TX. Basically stated, depending on what the possessory parent chooses each year, that parent will get summertime with their children for approximately 30 consecutive days.

  • However, the primary parent can elect to interrupt that 30 day possession with one weekend for their possession.
  • Also, the primary parent can elect to remove one weekend of possession from the possessory parent later in the summer, effectively allowing them to have approximately 30 uninterrupted days for summertime with the children.
  • The possessory parent can also choose to break-up their 30-day period, so long as each block of time is made up of at least 7 consecutive days.
    • For example, if the Summer were divided into two blocks of time and the first block were added immediately after a normal weekend of possession, keeping in mind that the second block of time supersedes the regular 3rd weekend time, which now does not count, the possessory parent can add two days to their summer possession.

There are a lot of different custody arrangements of time for summer possession, depending on what each parent elects but each parent will get a few weeks of uninterrupted vacation time in the summer.

Thankfully, for involved parents who are not designated the primary parent but who nevertheless want to exercise more possession of their children than allowed by the standard possession order, in 1997 the 70th Texas Legislature amended the Texas child custody laws to allow a possessory parent, that is the non-primary parent, to elect an expanded schedule, or as we call it, an extended standard possession order.

What are Extended Standard Possession Orders in Texas?

An extended standard possession order in TX, increases the possessory parent’s time from two-hour Thursday evenings throughout the school year to picking up the children after school and returning them back to school Friday morning, effectively turning a two-hour Thursday dinner-date with the children into a weekly overnight.

The expanded standard possession order also provides that the possessory parent can keep the children until Monday morning, returning them to school, on their first, third and fifth weekends of the month. These additions effectively increase that parent’s time for overnights to four consecutive days on the first, third and fifth weekends of the month and ensures that there is at least one overnight on Thursday per week during the school year.

Is Texas a 50/50 Custody State?

Texas is not a 50/50 custody state because the law does not automatically award both parents equal time with their children. However, the law does presume that it is in the children's best interests to have frequent and continuing contact with both parents, and courts will generally order a 50/50 custody arrangement if it is in the children's best interests.

There are a number of factors that courts will consider when deciding on a custody arrangement, including the parents' wishes, the children's needs, the parent's ability to cooperate, and the distance between the parent's homes. The court will usually approve if the parents can agree on a custody arrangement. However, if the parents cannot agree, the court will decide based on what it believes is in the children's best interests.

In some cases, a 50/50 custody arrangement may not be in the children's best interests. For example, if one parent has a record of abuse or neglect, the court may not order a 50/50 custody arrangement. Additionally, if the parents live far apart, a 50/50 custody arrangement may not be feasible.

If you are going through a child custody battle in TX and are concerned about custody, it is crucial to speak with our San Antonio child custody attorney. Our child custody lawyer can help you understand your rights and legal options and can represent you in a San Antonio court if necessary.

If you have more questions about Texas child custody laws, or would like to review your case with our San Antonio custody attorney, contact us online or call our law office at (210) 361-6990 today!

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