When Can I Seek an Expanded Standard Possession Order?

Standard Possession OrderThere are a lot of parts of a divorce that can be challenging to handle. Asset division is usually a trigger; so, too, are discussions about spousal maintenance. But when children are involved and spouses are arguing over custody, stress levels can really flare up.

Thankfully, Texas has some set rules in place for determining custody, like standard possession orders (SPO). Unless one parent is deemed a threat to the child, both parents have the right to actively raise their shared kids. For children at least 3-years-old or older, Texas courts put SPOs in place with the help of both parents to create set schedules detailing each of their time with their kids.

The judge creates and enforces this visitation schedule to establish consistency and avoid conflict between the parents. For children 3-years-old or younger, the judge will take it upon themselves to create an appropriate schedule, without both parents needing to agree on it. Coming to an agreement may help, but a judge has the ability to impose whatever they believe is best.

The good news is, custody agreements can be amended. And as of September 1, 2021, a non-custodial parent can now seek extra time with their children if they feel as though they are not spending enough quality time with them. With the guidance of a San Antonio child custody attorney from Grable Grimshaw, PLLC, a parent can put in a request for an expanded standard possession order to help resolve this.

One spouse is seen as the “custodial parent” in divorces in Texas

In child custody court cases, one parent will need to be labeled the “custodial parent,” or the one who has primary custody of the children. This is usually determined by who has custody of the children majority of the time. Even in cases where the parents have 50/50 custody, one of them still needs to be named this. It can sometimes be determined by who takes on the majority of parenting responsibilities or who remains in the couple’s marital home after divorce along with those duties. The non-custodial parent is the one who spends the least amount of time with their children or who has the least amount of responsibility.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the mothers are granted custodial status nearly 80% of the time where fathers are granted it a mere 20% of the time. While being the non-custodial parent will not necessarily hinder a father from seeing his children a lot, there can be more restrictions than he would like. Plus, courts only require the custodial parent to give the non-custodial parent 25% visitation. Having a standard possession order in place essentially establishes a routine for families and restricts one parent from abruptly moving away in order to maintain that routine, which is good for the children To abide by the standard possession order, both parents must live within 50 miles of each other. If the non-custodial parent lives further than 100 miles away, then their visitation is even more limited.

However, when going through court to determine and agree upon a visitation schedule, a judge may give the custodial parent, like the mother, more time with their children because their father lives far away from their school or activities. A judge may believe that maintaining the children’s daily schedule with the non-custodial parent in charge more often would possibly be unrealistic, thus giving the mother more scheduled time.

Expanded standard possession orders provide more required time

A lot happens as children grow up, and many milestones happen fast. If it comes to a point where the non-custodial parent feels as though he or she is not spending enough time with his children, putting in a request for an expanded standard possession order could help. As long as the non-custodial parent lives within 50 miles of the custodial parent, they will likely be approved to have more court-ordered time with their children and make visitation more convenient.

Instead of only spending time with the children every other weekend starting on Friday evenings, the expanded standard possession order could now allow a co-parent to take on more parental responsibilities that result in more time together. For example, on the weeks Dad normally has custody, he may be able to pick his kids up from school on Thursday evenings instead, bring them to and from school on Fridays, spend the weekend together, then bring them to school Monday mornings.

With more time, comes more responsibilities

Courts always want children to see both of their parents as much as possible as long as it is a good environment. But it is important to remember that if your custody agreement does change, your day-to-day responsibilities may change as well. You may be used to only having your children around on the weekends while doing fun activities. If you request the expanded standard possession order, you may now need to take on additional roles, like:

  • Waking them up early
  • Getting them ready for school
  • Helping with homework
  • Making school lunches
  • Taking them to after-school activities

Before you put in a request, ensure that this is the right fit based on how far away you live from the custodial parent and your kids’ schools.

Many ex-spouses stay on good terms with each other for the sake of raising their children and allow each other more than the court-ordered visitation time. Unfortunately, not everyone has a good co-parenting relationship. If you are the non-custodial parent to your children and believe your family would benefit from requesting an expanded standard possession order, contact Grable Grimshaw, PLLC. Our San Antonio child custody attorneys will review your child custody agreement and see how they can make adjustments to help you spend more quality time with your children. Call our office or submit our contact form to schedule a consultation today.