Texas Standard Possession Schedule

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What is a “Standard” or “Expanded Standard” custody schedule?

Texas Family Code 153.311 begins the Texas possession schedule. The following sections detail out what exchanges dates/times are used in a Texas Possession schedule. These sections outline what possession and access schedule (AKA visitation schedule), is in the child(ren)’s best interests. Judges start from this schedule as a baseline. Judges tend not to deviate from it unless some part of it is unworkable due to a parent’s or child’s schedule, or there are other reasons why a deviation from the standard schedule is in the child’s best interest.

Typical reasons why a standard schedule might not be in a child’s best interests would be if a parent’s job has an unusual schedule, the parties agreed to a shared custody schedule going forward, or the parties have a history of a more unique/shared schedule in the past that’s been working for the child(ren).

Healthcare workers, first responders, workers in the airline/travel industry, or food service workers usually cannot do a standard schedule as their work schedules are so varied. It’s hard to stick to a standard custody pattern if your job schedule is all over the place or you work when children would not be in school/daycare.

When parties agree to a more shared-custody schedule then a Judge would not require they follow a standard schedule. Week on, week off or a 2-2-5 schedule are used by some parents to equalize the school-year weeks or to share the child-care duties between the parents. If parties agree to a unique/shared schedule then a Judge usually will not impose a standard schedule.

A shared custody schedule is something Judges will consider, even in a contested case, but they require a lot of good coordination and respectful communications between the parents. Homework folders, class projects, sports practices/games, extracurricular dates, all need a good level of organization between the two houses. If parties are unable to get along, or one party’s schedule has a lot of travel/variations, then a shared custody schedule might not work. Judges do not want to setup a schedule just for it to be unworkable and then the parties are back to fighting or back in court.

In the end, a visitation schedule is very fact-dependent on what’s going on between the parties, the ages of the child(ren), work schedules, extracurriculars, and other factors. Speaking with a local attorney who is familiar with your case’s courts, judges, and specific factors can inform you of what options are available in your case.