As a divorce attorney,  the vast majority of our divorce cases involve children.  When the divorce case involves children, there will without fail be a situation where one parent is awarded a Standard Possession Schedule providing for access and possession when the parents reside over 100 miles apart.  Even though, a Standard Possession Order, will provide for the times and days for the parent to have their court ordered possession periods, there is constantly confusion over the terms.

What if I move over 100 miles from my children?

The Texas Family Code section 153.313 answers the questions of what is available to a parent who resides over 100 miles apart from his children.  The term “possessory conservator” refers to the parent who is the noncustodial parent for purposes of the visitation schedule.

If the possessory conservator resides more than 100 miles from the residence of the child, the possessory conservator shall have the right to possession of the child as follows:

(1) either regular weekend possession beginning on the first, third, and fifth Friday as provided

under the terms applicable to parents who reside 100 miles or less apart or not more than one weekend per month of the possessory conservator’s choice beginning at 6 p.m. on the day school recesses for the weekend and ending at 6 p.m. on the day before school resumes after the weekend, provided that the possessory conservator gives the managing conservator 14 days’ written or telephonic notice preceding a designated weekend, and provided that the possessory conservator elects an option for this alternative period of possession by written notice given to the managing conservator within 90 days after the parties begin to reside more than 100 miles apart, as applicable;

(2) each year beginning at 6 p.m. on the day the child is dismissed from school for the school’s

spring vacation and ending at 6 p.m. on the day before school resumes after that vacation;

(3) if the possessory conservator:

(A) gives the managing conservator written notice by April 1 of each year specifying an

extended period or periods of summer possession, the possessory conservator shall have

possession of the child for 42 days beginning not earlier than the day after the child’s

school is dismissed for the summer vacation and ending not later than seven days before

school resumes at the end of the summer vacation, to be exercised in not more than two

separate periods of at least seven consecutive days each, with each period of possession

beginning and ending at 6 p.m. on each applicable day; or

(B) does not give the managing conservator written notice by April 1 of each year specifying

an extended period or periods of summer possession, the possessory conservator shall

have possession of the child for 42 consecutive days beginning at 6 p.m. on June 15 and

ending at 6 p.m. on July 27;

(4) if the managing conservator gives the possessory conservator written notice by April 15 of

each year the managing conservator shall have possession of the child on one weekend beginning Friday at 6 p.m. and ending at 6 p.m. on the following Sunday during one period of possession by the possessory conservator under Subdivision (3), provided that if a period of possession by the possessory conservator exceeds 30 days, the managing conservator may have possession of the child under the terms of this subdivision on two nonconsecutive weekends during that time period, and further provided that the managing conservator picks up the child from the possessory conservator and returns the child to that same place; and

(5) if the managing conservator gives the possessory conservator written notice by April 15 of

each year, the managing conservator may designate 21 days beginning not earlier than the day after the child’s school is dismissed for the summer vacation and ending not later than seven days before school resumes at the end of the summer vacation, to be exercised in not more than two separate periods of at least seven consecutive days each, with each period of possession beginning and ending at 6 p.m. on each applicable day, during which the possessory conservator may not have possession of the child, provided that the period or periods so designated do not interfere with the possessory conservator’s period or periods of extended summer possession or with Father’s Day if the possessory conservator is the father of the child.

What about holidays with my children?

The Texas Family Code section 153.314 provides for the parent who resides over 100 miles apart from his children to have the following holiday possession:

The following provisions govern possession of the child for certain specific holidays and supersede conflicting weekend or Thursday periods of possession without regard to the distance the parents reside apart. The possessory conservator and the managing conservator shall have rights of possession of the child as follows:

(1) the possessory conservator shall have possession of the child in even-numbered years beginning at 6 p.m. on the day the child is dismissed from school for the Christmas school vacation and ending at noon on December 28, and the managing conservator shall have possession for the same period in odd-numbered years;

(2) the possessory conservator shall have possession of the child in odd-numbered years beginning at noon on December 28 and ending at 6 p.m. on the day before school resumes after that vacation, and the managing conservator shall have possession for the same period in even-numbered years;

(3) the possessory conservator shall have possession of the child in odd-numbered years, beginning at 6 p.m. on the day the child is dismissed from school before Thanksgiving and ending at 6 p.m. on the following Sunday, and the managing conservator shall have possession for the same period in even-numbered years;

(4) the parent not otherwise entitled under this standard possession order to present possession of a child on the child’s birthday shall have possession of the child beginning at 6 p.m. and ending at 8 p.m. on that day, provided that the parent picks up the child from the residence of the conservator entitled to possession and returns the child to that same place;

(5) if a conservator, the father shall have possession of the child beginning at 6 p.m. on the Friday preceding Father’s Day and ending on Father’s Day at 6 p.m., provided that, if he is not otherwise entitled under this standard possession order to present possession of the child, he picks up the child from the residence of the conservator entitled to possession and returns the child to that same place; and

(6) if a conservator, the mother shall have possession of the child beginning at 6 p.m. on the Friday preceding Mother’s Day and ending on Mother’s Day at 6 p.m., provided that, if she is not otherwise entitled under this standard possession order to present possession of the child, she picks up the child from the residence of the conservator entitled to possession and returns the child to that same place.

What if the day before or after my possession is a holiday?

Sec. 153.315 of the Texas Family Code provides for weekend possession periods that are extended by a holiday.

(a) If a weekend period of possession of the possessory conservator coincides with a student holiday or teacher in-service day that falls on a Monday during the regular school term, as determined by the school in which the child is enrolled, or with a federal, state, or local holiday that falls on a Monday during the summer months in which school is not in session, the weekend possession shall end at 6 p.m. on Monday.

(b) If a weekend period of possession of the possessory conservator coincides with a student holiday or teacher in-service day that falls on a Friday during the regular school term, as determined by the school in which the child is enrolled, or with a federal, state, or local holiday that falls on a Friday during the summer months in which school is not in session, the weekend possession shall begin at 6 p.m. on Thursday.

What about pick up and return of my children during my possession periods?

The Texas Family Code, Sec. 153.316 provides for general terms and conditions that parents must follow when exercising or ending possession.

The court shall order the following general terms and conditions of possession of a child to apply without regard to the distance between the residence of a parent and the child:

(1) the managing conservator shall surrender the child to the possessory conservator at the beginning of each period of the possessory conservator’s possession at the residence of the managing conservator;

(2) if the possessory conservator elects to begin a period of possession at the time the child’s

school is regularly dismissed, the managing conservator shall surrender the child to the possessory conservator at the beginning of each period of possession at the school in which the child is enrolled;

(3) the possessory conservator shall be ordered to do one of the following:

(A) the possessory conservator shall surrender the child to the managing conservator at the

end of each period of possession at the residence of the possessory conservator; or

(B) the possessory conservator shall return the child to the residence of the managing conservator at the end of each period of possession, except that the order shall provide that the possessory conservator shall surrender the child to the managing conservator at the end

of each period of possession at the residence of the possessory conservator if:

(i) at the time the original order or a modification of an order establishing terms and

conditions of possession or access the possessory conservator and the managing

conservator lived in the same county, the possessory conservator’s county of residence

remains the same after the rendition of the order, and the managing conservator’s

county of residence changes, effective on the date of the change of

residence by the managing conservator; or

(ii) the possessory conservator and managing conservator lived in the same residence

at any time during a six-month period preceding the date on which a suit for dissolution

of the marriage was filed and the possessory conservator’s county of residence

remains the same and the managing conservator’s county of residence

changes after they no longer live in the same residence, effective on the date the

order is rendered;

(4) if the possessory conservator elects to end a period of possession at the time the child’s school resumes, the possessory conservator shall surrender the child to the managing conservator at the end of each period of possession at the school in which the child is enrolled;

(5) each conservator shall return with the child the personal effects that the child brought at the beginning of the period of possession;

(6) either parent may designate a competent adult to pick up and return the child, as applicable; a parent or a designated competent adult shall be present when the child is picked up or returned;

(7) a parent shall give notice to the person in possession of the child on each occasion that the parent will be unable to exercise that parent’s right of possession for a specified period;

(8) written notice, including notice provided by electronic mail or facsimile, shall be deemed to

have been timely made if received or, if applicable, postmarked before or at the time that notice is due; and

(9) if a conservator’s time of possession of a child ends at the time school resumes and for any reason the child is not or will not be returned to school, the conservator in possession of the child shall immediately notify the school and the other conservator that the child will not be or has not been returned to school.

As a divorce attorney who has been involved in thousands of cases involving divorce and child custody,  we are always explaining to clients, even clients with high levels of education, the complexities of the possession schedules.  Clients will always have questions and confusion about the Texas possession schedules and as divorce attorneys we must attempt to simplify the schedule for them whenever we can.