Historically, most visitation schedules found in Texas child visitation/possession orders have been Standard Possession (SPO). If you are the the non custodial or non primary parent you visit with your child on the 1st, 3rd, and 5th Fridays of the month, starting at 6:00 p.m. on Friday to 6:00 p.m. on the following Sunday. Some non custodial or non primary parents may choose the 2nd and 4th Fridays of every month, starting 6:00 p.m. on Friday to 6:00 p.m. on the following Sunday. The SPO order also includes Christmas and Thanksgiving and seasonal periods of extended possession like summers and spring breaks. For some parents that is not enough time. If you are a mom or dad who does not live with your child most of the time, you may find yourself questioning the sufficiency of the time you have with your child:
- How can I see my children more than just weekends or have greater access to them if we both live in Texas?
- Is there a way I can have electronic access ( face time on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, Skype or Skype alternatives, (WhatsApp, Viber, Talky, ooVoo, or WeChat). on the days my children are not with me?
- Can my child be with me on additional holidays like Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, or Christmas?
- I am remarried and I have another child; Can my son/daughter celebrate their new sibling's birthday with us?
- Can I take my child trick or treating on Halloween since we both live Texas
- My family celebrates Easter? Can I take my child to church or to an Easter brunch or play?
- Can I talk with my child on the telephone on days they are not with me?
If you're asking these questions, you are a parent who desires more time with your child, and I applaud your passion. I have created this post for you to talk about the changes which can be made to your current order to increase time with your child. This information is also useful for the parent who is facing an initial paternity action. This information is a good thinking tool to avoid a cookie cutter SPO order that limits your time to time under a SPO order when additional time provisions would be a better fit for you and your child.
The Expanded Standard Possession Order is a jewel in the world of Texas Family Law and in particular child possession, access, and visitation, for parents who do not live in the same home with their children. In my over twenty five (25) years of practice I have seen the E-SPO go underused because non primary or non custodial parents just don't know about the option.
Under the E-SPO schedule, the non custodial or non primary parent picks up their child from school on Thursdays and then returns the child to school the next day. Under the Expanded Standard Possession Order (E-SPO), the noncustodial or non-primary parent gets an extra overnight visit on Thursdays. Likewise on Fridays, the the non custodial or non primary parent picks up the child from school or aftercare when school dismisses instead of having to wait until 6:00 p.m.on Friday. The advantages are apparent:
- Additional time with your child (greater opportunities to put your child to bed, read bedtime stories, say prayers, talk about their day)
- Additional contact or the opportunity for contact with school administrators, principal, teachers, and counselors
- Additional time to work on weekend projects and homework with your child from school or aftercare
In addition to the apparent advantages, a secondary more beneficial to your child's overall mental and emotional well being is possible. There E-SPO during the school year eliminates exchanges with the other parent. This is a win for all if your exchanges are emotionally strained or hostile. Your child's visits do not commence with parents arguing. You and your child can avoid beautiful memories tarnished by the presence of police, police reports, threats, or you and your ex's inability to have civil contact. If you want more details on how to change your existing SPO into a E-SPO, contact my firm or any family law attorney who can discuss this option in greater detail.
Orders that include special holidays like Halloween and Easter are the exception and not the norm in Texas. Equally rare are creative visitation schedules that are built around a parent's actual work schedule offshore or regional sales position The intent of this post and series of posts is to put the parent's relationship with the child first and to ensure the child does not get divorced from either parent. Children are incredible human beings with hearts, feelings, and emotions. Children have a legal right to have continuous uninterrupted time with parents who promote their emotional and physical well being.
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