November 9, 2012 Leave a comment
A Standard Possession Order, or SPO, is the visitation schedule of a non-custodial parent described in Texas Family Code Title 5, Subchapter F (153.3101 – 153.317). The actual statute can be found here. There is a rebuttable presumption that this schedule is in the best interest of the child (Tex. Fam. Code 153.252). However, there is arguably a different standard (or no standard) for a child under three, if you look at Texas Family Code 153.254. That will have to be addressed in a different post.
One easy way to explain the SPO is that the non-custodial parent will have the first, third and fifth weekends of every month, plus some additional holiday time and possession in the summer and Thursdays from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM. Non-custodial parents should make sure to understand that when there is a fifth weekend of the month, they will have the following weekend as well, since the following weekend will be the first weekend of the next month. This commonly causes confusion as many parents seem to believe they get “every other weekend.” If you have an SPO, that is not true, and you may miss out on time with your child. For ease of use, I found a calendar for 2012 as an example on the website of the Attorney General (AG Calendar) and another on an Austin Mediation website (AM website).
Keep in mind that the SPO addresses visitation for under 100 miles and over 100 miles. Over 100 miles gives the non-custodial parents the option to pick a weekend per month instead of the 1/3/5 schedule as well as additional time in the summer and all spring breaks.
Also, sometimes you hear reference to an Expanded SPO. Normally when that term is used, it refers to an SPO where the non-custodial parent has chosen to exercise the option under 153.317 to change pick-up or drop-off times to get more time with their child. When pick-up times are changed, it is normally changed from 6:00 PM to the time school is released and drop-off is normally changed from 8:00 PM to the time school resumes the next day. This allows the non-custodial parent take an additional over night (Thursday or Sunday) or have additional time between when school would be dismissed and 6:00 PM, the standard pick-up time.
If you have questions, feel free to ask. This is a brief overview and does not address every situation, school holidays, or general terms and conditions, for example. Hopefully this DOES make the SPO a little more clear!