If you and your children’s other parent are in the process of breaking up or are facing a divorce involving children, you will need a parenting time schedule that clarifies when the children will be with you and when they’ll be with their other parent.
Hammering out a parenting time schedule that works well for all involved can become very complicated very quickly, but an experienced child custody lawyer in Round Rock can help.
A Note about Parenting Time
When creating your parenting time schedule, you and your divorcing spouse can be as creative as you’d like with the scheduling. You are free to create any schedule that works well for the shared children and both parents.
If you and your children’s other parent are able to negotiate a parenting time schedule that you’re both willing to sign off on, you can expect the court to sign off on it. If, on the other hand, you need the court’s intervention on the matter, you should expect to receive one of its standard issue parenting time schedules.
Texas courts have preset schedules that address equal visitation, co-parenting schedules with alternating weekends, and everything in between. Having a better understanding of your parenting time schedule can help you become a more effective co-parent.
Standard Possession Orders
When parents can’t reach a decision regarding their parenting time schedule and one of them is the primary custodial parent, Texas courts tend to award the standard possession order (SPO). This plan affords the noncustodial parent the first, third, and fifth weekend of each month, along with a weekly visit on Thursday evenings.
If you’re the noncustodial parent and you are vying for more overnights with your children than an every other weekend schedule, you’ll need to convince the court that awarding you increased parenting time is in your children’s best interests. A skilled Round Rock custody lawyer can help you present a strong case in your favor.
Extended Standard Possession Orders
Texas also has extended standard possession orders for parents who live up to 50 miles apart. The schedule generally plays out as follows:
The noncustodial parent’s Thursday evening visit begins at the end of the school day on Thursday and ends when school starts again on Friday.
The visits on the first, third, and fifth weekends of every month begin on Friday after school and end when school resumes on Monday morning.
Holiday possession begins when school lets out for the holiday in question and ends when school resumes.
This schedule allows the noncustodial parent four-day weekends and adds up to about 40 percent of the total parenting time.
Parents Who Live 51 to 100 Miles Away from One Another
When parents live from 51 to 100 miles apart, the court’s standard possession order stipulates the following arrangements:
The noncustodial parent has the children every first, third, and fifth weekend of the month from 6 p.m. on Friday to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
The noncustodial parent has the children every Thursday during the school year from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
If there is a Friday holiday, the noncustodial parent’s weekend visit begins on Thursday at 6 p.m.
If there is a Monday holiday following the noncustodial parent’s weekend, the visit is extended until 6 p.m. on Monday.
The noncustodial parent receives thirty days of visitation during the summer, which is slated for July 1 to July 31 – unless the noncustodial parent arranges different days with the custodial parent prior to April 1.
The custodial parent is afforded one weekend with the children during the noncustodial parent’s thirty days in the summer.
Parents Who Live More than 100 Miles Apart
When the parents live more than 100 miles from one another, the standard possession order includes the following changes:
The noncustodial parent can opt for just one weekend in any given month but must give the custodial parent notice at least fourteen days prior.
The noncustodial parent gets the children for spring break each year.
The noncustodial parent is awarded forty-two days of summer break, which spans from June 15 to July 27 – unless he or she reschedules prior to April 1.
To learn more about this standard possession order or others, contact a knowledgeable Round Rock child custody attorney.
Parents Who Split Their Parenting Time More Evenly
For parents who divide their overnights with their children more evenly, the 4-3 schedule is common. This schedule involves the children spending four days out of the week with one parent and spending the other three with the other parent.
50/50 Possession Schedules
Some parents negotiate 50/50 possession schedules that divide their parenting time right down the middle. In recent years, Texas courts have become more likely to assign equal possession than they did in the past.
While all that traipsing back and forth between their parents’ households used to be considered hard on the kids, the benefits of consistently spending a significant amount of time with each parent support equal or nearly equal parenting time divisions.
The 2-2-5-5 Schedule
Parents with equal parenting time often turn to the 2-2-5-5 schedule. In this arrangement, the children spend two days with parent A, then two days with parent B, followed by five days with parent A, and five days with parent B. This schedule gives both parents every other weekend and affords a smooth division of parenting that doesn’t keep children away from either parent for long stretches of time.
The 2-2-3 Schedule
What is a 2-2-3 custody schedule? It’s another 50/50 parenting schedule that many parents embrace for its relative ease and consistency of visitation. It works this way:
Your children will stay with one of you for two days.
They will then spend the next two days with the other parent.
The children round out the week by spending three days back with the first parent.
The next week, the parents switch places.
While you can pick any day to start your 2-2-3 schedule, starting on Monday allows each parent to have the children every other weekend, which translates to more free time with them. Many parents like the 2-2-3 schedule for its flexibility.
Pros of the 2-2-3 Schedule
There are pros and cons associated with every scheduling choice out there, and some of the benefits of the 2-2-3 schedule include the following:
The schedule is well structured, easy to modify, and easy to put into effect.
The children are able to spend a significant amount of time with each parent every week.
The children don’t have to wait very long to see either parent.
The schedule adapts well to challenging work schedules
The parents split their time with the children equally, which can help keep the peace.
The schedule accommodates younger children who aren’t in school yet.
Both parents share daily caretaking, which is a core parenting responsibility that supports close bonds.
Cons of the 2-2-3 Schedule
There are also several downsides to the 2-2-3 schedule:
The frequent exchanges require organization, careful planning, and extra time.
Parents must pay careful attention to keeping one another apprised of the children’s schoolwork and extracurriculars.
Some children find it stressful to change homes this frequently.
This schedule means that the parents need to live relatively close to one another and to their children’s schools.
The parents need to be able to communicate openly with one another and to be committed to effective co-parenting.
To learn more about custody schedules and how they’re likely to play out in your case, contact a seasoned Round Rock child custody attorney.
Standard Possession Orders for Holidays
Texas employs a default custody schedule for holidays and special occasions that is not affected by the distance the parents live from one another – other than in relation to pick up and drop off times. Consider the following schedule:
The spring break custody schedule involves the noncustodial parent getting the kids in the even years and the custodial parent getting them in the odd years – except when the parents live more than 100 miles from one another.
The mother gets the children for Mother’s Day, and the father gets the children for Father’s Day.
The Thanksgiving custody schedule affords the custodial parent even years and the noncustodial parent odd years.
The custodial parent’s Christmas break begins when school lets out and ends on December 28 in the odd years. The noncustodial parent’s Christmas visitation does the same in the even years.
The second part of Christmas break for the custodial parent in the even years begins at noon on December 28 and ends at 6 p.m. on the day before school resumes. The noncustodial parent receives the same in the odd years.
The parent who doesn’t have possession on a child’s birthday receives visitation from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on that day.
The basic pick-up and drop-off times for holiday schedules are 6 p.m.
Child Custody Holiday Schedule Examples
If you are your children’s primary custodial parent, you won’t have the children this year for Thanksgiving, but you will have them from after school on the day school lets out for the winter holiday until noon on December 28.
If you are not the primary custodial parent, you can look forward to picking your children up at 6 p.m. on the day school lets out for Thanksgiving this year. You will have them from noon on December 28 until 6 p.m. on the day before school resumes after the holiday break.
Because next year is an even year – 2024 – noncustodial parents can also plan on having their children for this school year’s spring break from 6 p.m. on the day school lets out until 6 p.m. on the day before school resumes.
How to Deal with Summer Visitation
When summer hits, it’s a major change. The kids are no longer in school, their schedules can be erratic, and there are vacations to consider. In other words, summer custody schedules can be a lot. Navigating summer visitation will depend upon the parenting plan you have in place and your ability to negotiate visitation dates that work for the whole family.
If you’re having difficulty making decisions about summer visitation schedules, speak with a Round Rock custody attorney. He or she can help you understand your options and choose the best schedule for you and your child.
When the Child Isn’t Three Yet
When the child or children in question haven’t turned three yet, the court will likely award a parenting plan designed specifically to address the needs of younger children. These schedules can automatically shift to the standard possession order upon the child’s third birthday, or they can slowly evolve over time.
The kinds of factors that the court considers when creating parenting time schedules for children who are under the age of three include the following:
Each parent’s ability to share the rights and responsibilities of parenting a young child
Each parent’s history as a caretaker
Each parent’s availability and willingness to provide the child with the immense amount of care he or she needs
The physical, behavioral, and healthcare needs of the child, including any special needs
Each parent’s overall physical and mental health
The social and economic conditions each parent lives in
Whether other people live in either parent’s home
Whether there are siblings present during visitation with the young child
The child’s need for routines and each parent’s ability to address these needs
The proximity of the parents’ homes to one another
Communicating with the Children Electronically
Parents can request electronic communication with their children when the other parent has parenting time. This communication can occur through any of the following channels:
Messaging through social media
Often, the court will specify times when such communications are considered appropriate, such as from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on school nights, and will also address frequency and duration. The parent the child is with must allow the same level of privacy as during the other parent’s parenting time.
You Need an Experienced Round Rock Child Custody Attorney in Your Corner
Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Round Rock, Texas, is a compassionate child custody attorney who is well prepared to unleash the full scope of his impressive experience in pursuit of a parenting time schedule that works for you. Learn more by contacting us online or calling us at (254) 781-4222 and scheduling your FREE consultation today.