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What Texas law has to say about child custody - IV

In today's post, our blog will continue its ongoing discussion of the child custody laws in the state of Texas. To reiterate, our purpose in this undertaking is to set straight some common misconceptions about this important area of family law and provide divorcing parents with better insight into an admittedly complex process.

Possession and Access

Most people know that a parent who is not awarded primary physical custody in a divorce, referred to as the "possessory conservator" under Texas law, will be granted visitation with their child. What they may not know, however, is that under state law visitation is actually known by a far more technical sounding term: possession and access.

Furthermore, they may not know that the court system takes something of a hands-off approach to setting up a visitation schedules, allowing divorcing couples to work with their attorneys to craft an acceptable agreement that they believe to be in the best interests of their child.

However, it's important to understand that if the couples cannot agree or certain circumstances are present, a court could order any of the following:

  • Standard possession order: When parents cannot agree on a visitation schedule, courts will typically call for a standard possession order, meaning one that follows a sort of template created by the state legislature that is designed to be both workable and fair for the majority of parents.
  • Modified possession order: When parents cannot agree on a visitation schedule and certain factors are present, courts will typically call for a modified possession order, meaning a more customized version of the standard possession order. A common example might include adjusting the visitation hours to adjust for a parent's work schedule.
  • Modified under three order: This is essentially a modified order that limits visitation due to the child being under the age of three. For example, after examining the normal structure and routine of the child, the court might order no overnight visitation until the child reaches a certain age, believing it would prove too disruptive.
  • Supervised visitation order: This type of order is typically put in place when it is determined that the best interests of the child call for supervision by a neutral third party or private organization.

We'll continue to explore this topic in future posts. In the meantime, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional if you have questions or concerns about custody or visitation.

Source: Texas Young Lawyers Association, "What to expect in Texas family law court," Accessed Oct. 30, 2014

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