Introduction Not all that long ago, during a divorce, it was assumed mom would receive primary custody of the child, and the father would get an every other weekend style Standard Possession Order. In 1995, the legislature made its first attempt to establish standardize periods of possession for children. What the legislature included in 1995 was deemed to be “the minimum acceptable period of possession for the possessory conservator to receive in any suit affecting the parent child relationship (emphasis added).” The language in a Standard Possession Order is concrete, and the time period is easily identifiable. A parent is able to read a calendar in any year, in any month and identify the 1st, 3rd, or 5th weekend that a parent was entitled to possession and access. This make the standard possession order easy to work with.
To promote this minimum and more, Texas Family Code § 153.001 provides that the public policy of Texas is to:
(1) assure that children will have frequent and continuing contact with parents who have shown the ability to act in the best interest of the child;
(2) provide a safe, stable, and nonviolent environment for the child; and
(3) encourage parents to share in the rights and duties of raising their child after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage. The Basics of the 50/50 Split A 50/50 custody requires excellent co-parenting and communication skills between the parties. And before implementing a 50/50 split, the personalities of the parents and the children must be assessed to determine whether the family members are a good match for 50/50 custody. It is very important to consider any special circumstances of the children, involvement in extracurricular activities and what 50/50 possession schedule would do to the obligations of both the parents and the children. In other words, are both parents prepared for the schedule of the child and able to accommodate. And, are both parents prepared to accommodate one another. Although Texas has not been particularly receptive to the idea of a 50/50 possession schedule, it is gaining ground in other states. As such, Texas could begin moving in the direction of ordering 50/50 possession schedules on a regular basis.
Some very smart people have calculated that the number of hours that a person designated as a possessory conservator who made an election to expand their beginning and ending times, would enjoy approximately 48.6% of all the hours available during the year. Remember, the Texas family code allows McAllen and Edinburg parents to elected an extended standard possession order giving them more time with their children. But given that the extended standard vs. the 50/50 is only a couple percentage points difference, seems that the competition about 50/50 versus an expanded standard possession order equates to 122 hours per year out of the 8,760 available. Considering the amount of time a child needs to sleep, attend school, go to extracurricular activities and to address the hustle and bustle of modern life the resulting fight seems de minimis. The realistic fight is over time during the school year because the difference of a 50/50 and an expanded standard possession order is one school night extra per week during the school year.
It is always best for the parents to reach agreements on visitation schedules. They are unable, that is where having a well drafted possession order in place is important to ensure continued access to your child. If you or a loved on is going through a divorce, contact The McAllen Divorce Lawyer today for a free consultation at 956-501-6565.