What is expanded standard visitation? The statutes governing expanded standard visitation can be found at Section 153.317 of the Texas Family Code. To understand expanded standard, you must first understand standard visitation.
A discussion of a standard visitation order for Texas can be found here:
Expanded standard visitation simply adds time on to the standard possession order. You can elect to add time on to the following times:
Weekend periods of possession, pursuant to §153.317(a)(1)(A) and (B) provides that you can pick up the child when school is dismissed on Friday and/or return the child when the child’s school resumes the following Monday.
Thursday periods of possession, pursuant to §153.317(a)(2)(A) and (B) provides that you can pick up the child when school is dismissed on Thursday and/or return the child when the child’s school resumes the following Friday.
Essentially this creates uninterrupted visitation from the end of school Thursday through the following Monday morning for a parent’s weekend possession.
There are more time available for holiday periods of possession and for extended weekends due to holidays. These can all be found at §153.317 of the Texas Family Code.
If you notice above, I used the word “elect” for determining when these apply. Under the code, the parent exercising visitation can “elect” these additional times provided as follows:
- The court finds that the expanded standard visitation times are in the best interest of the child; and
- The election is made before or at the time that the visitation order is entered; and
- The election is written and filed with the court or an oral statement is made in open court (i.e. at a hearing) on the record (a court reporter typing).
What does all that mean? It means that if you are in a current lawsuit over a visitation order, and the court is ordering a standard possession order, you can elect to have any of the expanded standard visitation times set out in §153.317 if you file a written request with the court or request it at a hearing on the record, and the court thinks it is in the best interest of the child.
The important notes are that the person exercising visitation gets to choose, and that there must be a current lawsuit pending regarding visitation. You cannot make these elections after an order is entered.