a few final points on the standard possession order in Texas

In previous posts I have discussed the various schedules that occur in a Texas standard possession order.  For review we have covered:

There have been other discussions on Texas standard visitation which you can access via “visitation” on the tags below.

To finalize the discussion I wanted to cover some of the other issues that arise in Texas standard visitation.


One of the first paragraphs in a standard possession order states that the parties are free to agree on any possession order they like, but absent agreement it will be a standard possession order.  This is set out in §153.311 of the Texas Family Code.  This means that standard visitation is just a fall back for when the parties cannot mutually agree on visitation.  This is the legislatures way of trying to get the parents to work things out.

General Terms and Conditions

These are set out in §153.316 of the Texas Family Code.  It covers:

  1. Where the child should be dropped off at the beginning of the non-custodial or visiting parent’s possession.  This can be at the home of the custodial parent, at the home of the visiting parent, or some other location like the child’s school or a police station.  Check your order to determine where this is.
  2. If the possession is to begin at the time the child’s school is dismissed, then the child is surrendered at the school at the end of the school day.
  3. Where the child should be picked up at the end of the non-custodial parent or visiting parent’s possession.  This will typically be the opposite of the place in number 1., but can be at any of the three.  Check your order.  NOTE: All transfers are to take place at these location.  If no agreement has been made to modify these provisions, this is where you must pick up and drop off.
  4. If the possession ends when school resumes, the visiting parent will return the child to school at the beginning of the school day.
  5. Each party is supposed to return the child with the clothes and items that they brought.  You cannot imagine what a big issue this can become, or maybe you can.  The provision is simple…what the child comes with, the child goes home with.  Do the clothes have to be washed?  No, it does not say that.  You simply must return those items with the child.
  6. Each party can designate a competent adult to deliver the child.  This means that a parent can pick an adult to transfer the child pursuant to numbers 1. and 2. above.  If your order does not specifically restrict someone, then they can choose any competent adult.  If you disagree with the adult’s competence, you will have to go to court.  This provision is for pick up and drop off only.  This provision does not mean that the parent can designate a person to visit with the child while the visiting parent is not there.  Visitations are set up for the parents.  However, there are circumstances where a parent can allow others to visit with the child (grandparents, new wife and family, etc…)  This may be the subject of another post.
  7. Each parent shall give notice to the other parent in possession of the child if they will be unable to exercise visitation of the child.  This notice should be in writing if possible.  This is probably the most ignored provision of a standard possession order in Texas.  You shouldn’t ignore it because if it happens enough (no notice given for missed possessions) it can be grounds to take away visitation rights.
  8. Send it in writing as soon as possible.  This can include an email.
  9. If possessions begin or end at school, and the parent will not be able to get the child from or to school, you must notify the other parent so that proper arrangements can be made.  Nothing will get you in trouble faster with the court than a child missing school.

The above is a general summary of some of the additional rules in a standard possession order in Texas.  My comments are not all inclusive and there are many fact scenarios that I did not cover.  If you are having problems with any of these, contact a local attorney and discuss it with them.

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41 Responses to a few final points on the standard possession order in Texas

  1. Joint - Expanded July 5, 2012 at 12:33 pm #

    If I have expanded visitation, during the summer since the kids are not in school, do I have to pickup and drop off at me ex’s house?

  2. nina September 9, 2012 at 1:19 am #

    What can i do if he misses visitation piriods no call no-show .

  3. nina September 9, 2012 at 1:36 am #

    What do i do if,when i go to pick.my son up at his dads with the support of my longtime bf who was my only transportation that day, throws a bi-polar rage of a fit just because my bf was in his driveway.( bf in the car at all times) we live 30mi. apart so i or my agent/ leason must pick my son up at his dads after his possions thurs.. 1,3,5weekends

  4. Chris May 21, 2013 at 9:11 am #

    Please expand on your point #6 “This provision does not mean that the parent can designate a person to visit with the child while the visiting parent is not there. Visitations are set up for the parents.” I am the custodial parent and I often hear after the fact that the kids are left if the care of someone else during my ex’s visitation. These are often people I have never met and my ex hangs out with some shady characters. Do I have the right to demand that get approval from me? return the kids to my care when she cannot be with them? I’m 3 years into divorce and these issues have gotten only marginally easier. Gone are the days when we fight about every little thing. But now we almost never speak. It is less exhausting but not much more productive.

  5. molly July 29, 2013 at 1:27 pm #

    I have almost the same questions as Chris. My ex has been working up from supervised visitation to standard possession for the last 18 months, after spending 3 years in prison. We finished what should have been our last court hearing regarding the modification of Orders and agreed to the Standard Possession Order with no discussion of everything else. My ex’s attorney sent over proposed orders with nearly every special provision added including me picking them up on Sundays and his Thursday visitation starting when the kids are released from school and continuing until school the next morning {only 2 of our 3 children are school age}. This is clearly not what we were agreeing to in front of a judge. My ex seems to think I am crazy for thinking this is outrageous. He is trying to take advantage of any extra time possible, but this last weekend of visitation, left the children with his girlfriend for the entire day on Saturday and has told the kids that for one of his visits next month, he will be hiring a nany to pick them up and keep them for the weekend while he is at a wedding with his girlfriend. What if anything can be done as I am sure we will be in court soon under a Motion to Clarify?

  6. Edith December 31, 2013 at 9:24 am #

    Please expand on the competent adult . The order does not list someone specifically but the mother does not want to release to anyone other than dad. I as girlfriend pick up because he gets off late. Is there a special form to give her where he list me as his designated person or is she in contempt of court of she refuses to give me the child

  7. Chris Schmiedeke February 3, 2014 at 1:35 pm #

    Technically she would be in contempt for not providing the child to you if you are designated as the competent adult. Would the Court hold her in contempt? Possibly. The best idea would probably be to designate you as a “competent adult” in a letter sent via certified mail return receipt requested.

    Speak to a local attorney. They would know your particular court better.

  8. ALLY May 5, 2015 at 1:07 pm #

    I have two points that I would like clarification on. First, the competent adult issue…The mother moved out of state and comes back to Texas to see the children once per month. She has been sending others to pick up the kids at the drop off spot and then she is either not coming into town until the next day or sometimes not for the whole weekend. Our paperwork says her visitation while in Texas. Would we be in contempt if we don’t release our children? We have also been told that we don’t have the right to know where she is having the kids stay for her periods of possession. We drop them off, don’t have any idea where they are staying and also she doesn’t allow contact with our children. We went 46 out of 48 days last summer without any contact with them. We found out later they were not in her home state and actually had gone to Hawaii during the hurricane with them. Thoughts?

  9. ALLY May 5, 2015 at 1:43 pm #

    The second, I realized was when I read one of your blog stories. If someone is denying phone/electronic access and certain periods of possession deliberately can they hold you liable or in contempt if you did some of the same things but not intentionally (ie the children don’t want to talk, don’t want to Skype, don’t want to go to the other parents home)

  10. Shade January 22, 2016 at 9:50 am #

    If the non custodial parent designates another person to pick up and drop off other than himself is he required to notify me? Would this be considered a violation?

  11. Chris Schmiedeke January 26, 2016 at 12:00 pm #

    If your order provides that they notify you, then they should. The order controls.

  12. Michelle February 23, 2016 at 2:13 am #

    My ex will be out of town for work and is wanting me to send my daughter to his girlfriend during his visitation. My daughter is afraid to be alone with the girlfriend but my daughter doesn’t want to me to tell her dad because he will get upset. My ex refuses to trade for another weekend. My ex thinks that as long as he has a notarized letter he can give his visitation to any competent adult. What are my rights?

  13. Chris Schmiedeke March 2, 2016 at 8:56 am #

    Michelle, you need to talk to an attorney and have them review your order. It is hard for me to comment without seeing your order. Typically the visitation in an order is only for the person named in the order, not others.

  14. Clem July 14, 2016 at 12:53 am #

    I still need clarification on where children should be picked up or dropped off for visitation. The court order only mentions that the non-custodial parent should be picking up children and dropping them off for visitation. My ex-wife frequently demands that I pick up or drop off children at her mom’s house (my kids grandmother/my ex mother in-law). She is doing it only for her own convenience. The issue is that my ex-mother in-law if confrontational sometimes. The address of record (place of residence) for my kids is with their mom (custodial parent). Do I have the right to decline her demands and tell her that I will be picking up the kids and dropping them off at her place and not be in contempt with the court order?

  15. Nathan March 18, 2017 at 5:59 pm #

    Our order is very specific, we are the non custodial parents and we pick up at her residence and she picks up at our house at the end of almost all visits. However she is always late, often we wnd up dropping them off because its easier than arguing wuth her but this last Thursday we told her when we picked them up that under no circumstances would we be able to drive them home if she didnt make it (one car gf had work), they didnt have school friday but for spring break (it’s her year) we weren’t sure where we stood on that. Anyhow, at pickup time she spent 2 hours threatening us legally and demanding that we drop off. It was after 10 pm kids were crying upset but we couldn’t drop them off. Finally she showed up with her grown daughter but so drunk she couldn’t complete a sentence. What are our options if this happens in the future? Since our divorce I have never not seen her beer in hand generally she doesn’t get a driver and at our pickup time once she was so hammered she came out to the car picked a fight with my girlfriend and chased it down as we drove away door open because she refused to move. Point being this is a constant issue the kids have began to point it out and we worry about their safety with her drinking and driving and if this begins happening on school nights what do we do?

  16. Chris Schmiedeke April 3, 2017 at 8:25 am #

    Nathan, in any situation like this use common sense. Always protect the children first and foremost. The Court will always support you if you are protecting the children. If you need to involve the authorities, do so as well. Contact a local attorney to review your case for you and see if a modification is in order because of mother’s drinking.

    Be sure and check out my new website www.chrislawyer.com as I am phasing out this blog and moving everything to my website.

  17. Shannon July 2, 2017 at 8:21 pm #

    My 11 year old is refusing to go to her grandparents out of state since her Dad is not going to be there. Her Dad states that she must go because it is his standard summer visitation. He is going to fly up 1-2 weeks later and my daughter wants to go with him but she does not want to go until he is there. Do I make her go?

  18. james g reed August 8, 2017 at 4:06 pm #

    I’m the primary custodial parent. My ex will not transport my daughter to me at the end of her weekday/weekend visitation….she says, ‘If you want her, come get her.” I do but no longer want to be bullied like this. It’s not easy to document…other than just writing downs the days I go get my daughter when the mother is supposed to transport her to my home.
    Do i have recourse? thanks,

  19. Rebecca September 18, 2017 at 4:59 pm #

    I recently moved into a home and my children wait for their father to pick them up after school when it’s his week. I’ve explained to their father that I needed some type of notice we don’t have to speak directly a text is fine when he picks them up and a time would be appreciated. Anytime he comes he never lets me know just shows up. On Saturday there was a miscommunication between him and my son and he just showed up. I never said he could he didn’t get ahold of me even after he said he called I didn’t answer because I had no idea he was coming. I responded to his text saying I would give him a time to pick up my sons so they could help him move. I never said you can come pick them up nor did I give a time. I asked him to leave and he started arguing with me. He wouldn’t leave even after I explained the situation he said I didn’t know the law and he wasn’t on my property he could come anytime and park anywhere on my street. I dont want any problems with him. Dealing with him is not my first choice in the past he has showed up several times at my home and my parents house. I don’t want him just showing when he feels like it what can I do to prevent this from happening again. I feel like I need some type of restraining order because our past encounters have not been pleasant.

  20. sherin October 20, 2017 at 2:22 pm #

    i have a 3yr old whose dad let his half sister pick her up and does not call me to tell me he is designating her to do so. and I found out my daughter sleeps in his half sister’s house and pick her up in the morning when he gets off work. can I get in trouble if I refuse to let her pick up my daughter?

  21. Diana Lund February 3, 2018 at 12:41 pm #

    I have a question. If the non-custodial parent works on all Saturday’s of SOP, does the custodial parent have to relinquish child on Friday’s of 1st, 3rd, 5th if he will be working and leaving him with someone else other than immediate family members?

  22. Veronica February 8, 2018 at 1:29 pm #

    Where do I Have to say that he does not pick up child?
    What if he does for the summer but leaves her at his or my parents house for a few days?

  23. Miguel June 12, 2018 at 10:05 pm #

    I am the non custodial parent and I have my daughter for my extended possession. During my possession I need to be out of town for 2 days due to work but I left her with my parents. Does this have anything to do with inability to excercise possesion?

  24. Chris Schmiedeke June 13, 2018 at 8:46 am #


  25. Chris Schmiedeke June 13, 2018 at 8:47 am #

    Sorry Veronica, don’t know what you are asking.

  26. Chris Schmiedeke June 13, 2018 at 8:48 am #

    Unless your decree states otherwise, I would think so. Read your decree carefully as it controls everything. What you are referring to is a fist right of refusal. If you do not have one in your order then you may need to modify the order. Talk to a local attorney.

  27. Chris Schmiedeke June 13, 2018 at 8:49 am #

    That depends on what your order says. Follow the order.

  28. Miguel June 22, 2018 at 3:21 pm #

    So than if my daughter is under my possession and I need to leave town, I can leave her with my parents but need to let my ex know correct? The inability to excercise possesion states that each conservator needs to let the other know, But it does not read that I can not leave my daughter with any family member.
    Can you please explain it to me

  29. Denise August 2, 2018 at 6:41 am #

    What can I do if the non-custodial parent won’t return my son’s belongings after summer possession? We only want the things he went there with.

  30. Laquita dumas August 7, 2018 at 10:14 am #

    My ex says anyone with an identification card can pick up my child in Texas that it was a law. Is this true?

  31. Tom September 5, 2018 at 10:36 pm #

    My child is three and i am the non custodial parent. I have the extended app the order states that I must pick her up from school when it is dismissed or 6pm on Thursday. Return her to school on Friday and pick her up again when school is dismissed or 6pm.

    She is in daycare. Not even preschool. I see the definition of school and that it would follow the school district. I’m planned a trip for thurs-sun I told her mom about it and she agreed to allow me to pick our daughter up from her at 9:30 Thursday morning for the trip.

    Now the day before our trip she is saying I need to follow the order and I can’t oick up my daughter until end of school and I can’t keep her out of school on Friday. Please help, our plans to have her visit/meet her grandmother are ruined.

    Is daycare really school? Does she have to attend on Friday? Also, if I want to pick her up. What is school dismissal at a daycare?!? This is generally whenever the parent gets off work. I’m off all day.

    Any clarification would be great

  32. Sandy October 4, 2018 at 5:47 pm #

    Hi Chris, Interesting blog. It seems you have not written in a while. I hope you continue. I read on your site about your first trial you were “hometowned”! I know how that is and it is awful! I stumbled upon your site trying to refresh my memory helping a friend who recently finished a trial. Her questions were regarding pick up and drop off times. She was ordered to be the non-custodial parent, standard visitation–due to being “hometowned”….and does not want to go to the dad’s house because he harasses her- its more than harassment actually. He has lots of money and it seems to work to his advantage. He may be there to harass her but then will leave for the weekend and do drugs. Leaving their 6 year old with random people and sometimes his first ex-wife. Does the judge need to specifically say that the child can be picked up from school at 3PM? and if it doesn’t does the time default to 6pm at his residence? You can view information about their case on Dolcefino Consulting Facebook site or Youtube, “Carnival of Conflict”.
    Do you know if there will ever be a clear definition of “Best Interest of the Child” it seems to leave that up to the discretion of the judge allows for a lot of other issues. Anywho, keep up the good work!


  33. Chris Schmiedeke October 5, 2018 at 8:45 am #

    Whatever the order says as to pick up time is the pick up time. There is no discretion. If it says 6:00 p.m. it is 6:00 p.m.

  34. Victoria Labian November 22, 2018 at 4:05 am #

    My bf ex moved to the Lubbock TX from South TX. The orders do have the standard long distance custody arrangements. We have only had his daughter for most of the summer. When it was time to for her to return home my bf, who travels for work, arranged to meet in a town only 2 hours away for Lubbock. She informed us the week before that she didn’t have the money for a gas to meet him to pick her up. So we loan her the money, still haven’t been paid back, now the holiday season is here, and she will need to be give dates for a when to pick up his daughter. What do we do?

  35. Anthony February 11, 2019 at 7:23 pm #

    Hi Chris,

    Quick question regarding your last comment:
    “Whatever the order says as to pick up time is the pick up time. There is no discretion. If it says 6:00 p.m. it is 6:00 p.m.”

    I have a standard possession order, and my son and I live 100+ miles away from his mother. She refuses to pick him up by 6, and wants to pick him up at 10pm and drop him off any time on Sunday (anywhere from 8am to 3pm).

    What are my options to make her wait until the next morning if not picked up at 6pm (my son is 7) and what can I do to enforce the drop off being 6pm (or otherwise 9am because it basically makes it so i cannot plan my day and weekend).


  36. Chris Schmiedeke February 27, 2019 at 12:17 pm #

    As I mentioned, the orders are the orders. That is what you (and she) should follow. If they do not work, then you need to fix them and tell the Court why they are not working and why they need to be fixed. It is called a modification. Talk to a local attorney. They will be able to help you out.

    I don’t really monitor this site much. I am morphing over to my new website chrislawyer.com.

  37. Mila May 2, 2020 at 3:25 pm #

    Hello! My extended spo order in section 153.316 under general terms in condition has both point 3 a. and 3.b. without the ie. It’s making the return of the child more complicated than it should be. We don’t live in the same county and it’s tiring driving an hour each way. Our orders say that she is supposed to pick up the child from my house at the end of my possession but right below it says to take the child to school (she’s only 2, therefore not in school), or if the child is not in school, then to take her to my ex’s house. These two are so contradicting.

  38. Jennifer June 29, 2021 at 3:21 pm #

    I am the custodial parent and at times I am asked to pick up my child from the non-custodial parents(father) home. When I pick up my child(13), I walk up to the door to pick her up. The father is now telling me he does not want me to walk up to his house to pick up my daughter. Can he ask me this without an order. I have not found any information regarding this in our divorce/custody paperwork. Would I be violating some law or anything by walking up to the door to pick up my daughter?

  39. Chris Schmiedeke June 30, 2021 at 10:49 am #

    Jennifer I have moved everything over to a new website – http://www.divorcesimplified.law. There are articles and VLOGS over there that you may be interested in.

    To answer your question, just follow your order. If it does not provide an answer to an issue, you will have to work it out with the opposing party, or modify the order to address that issue.


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