A Brief Examination of Visitation under Texas Law

As illustrated by the previous two posts, the state of Texas uses somewhat different legal terms in family law matters. To illustrate, “conservatorship” is the term for child custody, while “primary joint managing conservator” is the term for a custodial parent.

Unfortunately, the term for visitation is also much different than you may be accustomed to hearing. The courts use the phrase “possession and access” when referencing the amount of time a parent spends with a child.

Possession and Access

Under Texas law, parents are typically given the opportunity to create mutually satisfactory possession and access schedules that they believe are in the best interests of their child/children. However, in the event they are unable to agree, parents must refer to a court-ordered visitation schedule for direction.

It is important to note that while parents can create their own possession and access schedules, many simply opt to simply follow the court-ordered visitation schedule at the outset of the divorce. Why? To prevent prolonged (and bitter) arguments and spare the child/children from any additional trauma.

Accordingly, a parent could be awarded one of four possible types of possession and access (visitation) in Texas:

  • Standard possession
  • Modified possession
  • Modified under three possession
  • Supervised visitation

Standard Possession Order

The standard possession order is most commonly issued in situations where the family life is considered stable. It mandates an equitable visitation schedule designed by the Texas legislature.

A standard possession order typically grants the following:

  • Holidays are divided among the primary joint managing conservator (PJMC) and the possessory conservator (PC) (i.e., custodial and non-custodial parent). Each party has a right to a particular holiday every other year.
  • The PC is granted 30 days with the child/children over the summer; this is expanded to 42 days if they live over 100 miles away.
  • The PC’s visitation begins at 6pm every first, third and fifth Friday of the month, and ends at 6pm Sunday evening. (An extended version of this schedule may be requested; it provides the PC with extra evenings.)
  • The PC is granted visitation rights every Thursday from 6pm to 8pm.

This post is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Contact a legal professional to learn more about your child custody/visitation issue.

Related Resources:

  • What to Expect in Texas Family Law Court (Texas Bar Association)