texas standard possession order de-mystified – weekend possessions

This is my first post in a series on the Texas Standard Possession Order and the wording associated with visitation in Texas.

The foundation for the Texas Standard Possession Order is the weekend visit. Weekend visits occur on the first, third and fifth Friday of every month. When looking at a standard calendar, find the first Friday of any given month and that is the first Friday described in the standard possession order. The third weekend is self explanatory and occasionally there will be a fifth Friday in a month.

When there is a fifth Friday in a given month, the immediately following Friday will be the first Friday of that month, in effect giving two weekends in a row. This pattern continues throughout the year and is only superseded (or replaced) by holiday visitations.

The standard pickup time for the Texas Standard Possession Order is 6:00 p.m. on Friday. However, the person exercising visitation has the right to elect that their visits begin at the time the child’s school is dismissed, or any time between the time the child’s school is dismissed and 6:00 p.m., if that election is made before entry of the order and it is reflected in the order. This means that you cannot elect this provision after the order is entered.

The standard drop off time for the Texas Standard Possession Order is 6:00 p.m. on the Sunday following the first, third or fifth Friday of the month. However, as stated above, the person exercising visitation has the right to elect that the visitation ends at time school resumes on the Monday following the first, third, or fifth Friday of any given month provided the election is made prior to entry of the order.

If the parties live more than 100 miles from each other, the person exercising visitation can either exercise the weekend visits as set out above or they can elect to exercise one weekend per month of their choice to begin at 6:00 p.m. on that Friday and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the following Sunday. The visiting parent must give 14 days written or telephonic notice of the weekend they choose. Additionally, this election for one weekend per month must be made in writing to the parent with custody of the child within 90 days after the parties begin to live more than 100 miles apart.

If a first, third or fifth weekend (or the weekend designated if over 100 miles) coincides with a school holiday during the school term or with a federal, state or local holiday during the summer, the weekend possession will begin at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday immediately preceding a Friday holiday or it will end at 6:00 p.m. on the Monday holiday. If alternate pick up and drop off times were made as described above then those would apply here as well.

By way of example, if Memorial Day weekend is a person’s visitation weekend, then their possession would end on that Monday holiday at 6:00 p.m. and not at 6:00 p.m. the preceding Sunday. If they had elected to return the child to school at the end of their possession times then that parent would return the child to school on Tuesday morning following the Monday holiday.

In my next post, I will discuss the Thursday periods of possession of the Texas Standard Possession Order.

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163 Responses to texas standard possession order de-mystified – weekend possessions

  1. Chris Schmiedeke September 29, 2014 at 12:19 pm #

    That depends on your order. Typically, the custodial parent gets one weekend inside the extended summer possession and one outside of that time in addition to the normal weekends. Again, look at your order, it is in there if they get it.

  2. Liana May 14, 2015 at 2:33 pm #

    I have a standard possession order with my ex. He recently remarried and has moved back to Houston and is finally able to see them according the our order. The issue is now that he has his weekends he won’t comply to the existing schedules they have had over the past 3.5 years, while he was gone, when they are with him. They are in select soccer club and when it is his week end he won’t take them to their games. Can he do that? This is something that I (because he won’t help with the cost) pay a big chunck of money for and they train hard for. He won’t communicate with me in anyway not even when it has to do with the kids. And now that my son is starting football at his public school he is affraid his dad will do the same. What are my options?

  3. Chris Schmiedeke May 14, 2015 at 2:44 pm #

    You need to talk to an attorney in your area about modifying the order. If it has been that long the court could consider changing up the schedule. The extracurricular thing is a tough one. Usually the courts won’t make the visiting parent take them to extras that infringe upon their time. However, every case is different. Talk to an attorney that knows your courts and see what they say. Good luck.

  4. Tropical Punch June 8, 2015 at 12:53 pm #

    Is there anything I can do If he is not exercising all of his times of possession? He sees the children once a month and on holidays. He is not behind on CS and pays the max. Can I force visitation or get more CS?

  5. luis piedra July 28, 2015 at 10:41 pm #

    I have a question, when does the standard weekends start back after i have my kids all of July?

  6. Chris Schmiedeke July 29, 2015 at 7:50 am #

    Standard weekends would start on the next 1st, 3rd or 5th weekend after the extended summer visit. This year, under a standard possession order, if the extended summer visit ends July 31 at 6:00 p.m., the weekend visit would begin on the 31st (5th Friday) at 6:00 p.m. through Sunday at 6:00 p.m.

  7. luis piedra July 29, 2015 at 10:26 am #

    Thanks for the help, only site that seems to get answers! Keep up the great help

  8. Leen November 23, 2015 at 1:54 pm #

    I have a question if me and my x have joint custody but he refuses to give them back when he suppose too and he said he’s keeping them. Does he have to surrender my kids?

  9. Chris Schmiedeke December 3, 2015 at 3:46 pm #

    I cannot answer that questions because you have not told me who has possession when. If your order gives you possession at a certain time, then you are entitled to possession at that time and the ex is in contempt of court if they are not giving the child to you. You definitely need to speak to an attorney if the ex is not returning the child.

  10. Tasha December 31, 2015 at 5:22 pm #

    If neither parent live in the county where the order was placed, and the non-custodial parent moved over 100 miles away from the child’s residence, does the custodial parent have to drop off or pick up the child? Both parents follow the standard visitations, there have been no court modifications for visitations.

  11. Chris Schmiedeke January 4, 2016 at 1:02 pm #

    It depends on what your order says. Follow the order. If the order does not designate who picks up and drops off, then you would need to go to Court to resolve the issue. You would file a Petition to Modify the prior order in the county where the order is out of. I recommend you get an attorney to do this.

  12. Josh January 11, 2016 at 4:26 pm #

    Hi Chris,

    I’m in Dallas county and plan on representing myself during our divorce. (it is uncontested) My wife and I have drafted a Divorce Decree which states (among other things) that neither party pays child support; however, I will pay insurance for our child. In your opinion will that satisfy most courts? Further, we have agreed that she will be primary conservator for things like medical decisions for our child, but his address according to the Dallas School District will be listed as my address. (since I am continuing to leave at our residence) Custody is shared 50/50 for us and we are amicable. Can I only hire a mediator? Should I hire anyone at all if we are both in agreement? Thank you.

  13. Chris Schmiedeke January 12, 2016 at 11:17 am #

    I am not sure if the judge will approve it or not. You should definitely explain that you are maintaining health insurance and that it is a 50/50 situation. As far as a mediator, you would only need a mediator if there were issues unresolved. If you have agreed on everything, there is no need for a mediator.

    Be sure to check with Dallas County as they have specific requirements for pro se (representing themselves) parties divorces.

  14. Rob January 22, 2016 at 11:10 am #

    Chris, really appreciate your site and attention to it! Quick standard custody question…I am noncustodial with a 240 mile difference with children under 10 years of age and am coming up on my 90-day selection of 1,3,5, or for one weekend per month with 14 day notice. Divorce not amicable (no co-parenting). First, I have heard that this is a special notice and would just need to inform her in writing, not the court. This known, will there be any difficulty in obtaining this format at a later date (with your answer speaking to common ex or court responses)? Thank you kindly.

  15. Rob January 23, 2016 at 11:04 pm #

    To clarify the question…Would there be difficulty in the REQUEST of either the 1, 3, 5 weekend visitation schedule versus the once a month, after the 90 days expires. For instance, if I moved over 100 miles and a year later I want to amend to once a month, will this be considered and by the custodial or court or both?


  16. Chris Schmiedeke January 26, 2016 at 11:56 am #

    Rob, I do not have an easy answer to your question as I have not seen your order. The simple answer is to simply follow your orders. If the orders do not address the issue, then you may run into problems and have to seek help from the Court. I only say that because you implied that your ex is difficult to work with.

    Hope this answers your question as I am a little unclear what you are asking.

  17. Stacy February 8, 2016 at 2:43 pm #

    HI Chris,

    My ex has expanded standard, with his time ending at school drop off. This morning my son said he wasn’t feeling well and my ex decided to keep him home from school.

    Which parent is expected to stay home – Me or him?
    Thanks in advance.

  18. Bart February 18, 2016 at 11:08 am #

    Hello. I have a Standard possession order (whatever that is)f and it entitles me to 42 days in the summer because I live more than 100 miles away. My ex-wife gets any 2 non-consecutive weekends during this extended summer possession as long as she gives me written notice of these by April 15th. Here’s my question. Do I still get a total of 42 days or does she make my total days 38 if she elects two weekends during this time?

  19. Danielle February 22, 2016 at 7:55 pm #

    Non custodial parent refuses to get child for the weekend appointed, that he gets credit from child support for, because he’s getting her for spring break and that counts for his credit.

    Does holiday visitation count as the credited visitation? I was under the impression that holiday time was separate.

  20. Chris Schmiedeke March 2, 2016 at 8:57 am #

    Danielle, I am not sure what you are asking. You reference visitation and then child support. Not sure what you mean by “credited visitation”.

  21. Chris Schmiedeke March 2, 2016 at 8:58 am #

    It would reduce your 42 days.

  22. Chris Schmiedeke March 2, 2016 at 9:07 am #

    That is really something the two of you would need to work out. There is no easy answer to the question.

  23. Hector March 8, 2016 at 10:43 am #

    Hi Chris,

    I get my children the 2nd, 4th and 5th weekends of every month and every spring break. I am the NCP and we reside more than 100 miles apart.
    My question, my girls come with me for spring break, their last day of school is this Thursday bc Friday is a teacher work day and the kids do not have school, so technically spring break starts on that Thursday. My ex is trying to keep them until Friday and exchange them at 6pm. So with Friday being a teacher work day, Do i get my kids on that Thursday, since Friday is a school holiday?

  24. A.Esparza March 22, 2016 at 10:09 am #

    How does it work when Friday is a school holiday during custodial parents weekend and the father normally has Thursday visitation, does he still get it because school would be out and not in session on Friday

  25. Chris Schmiedeke March 22, 2016 at 11:42 am #

    I am not following your question as I do not know which party you are enquiring about. I assume you are talking about this weekend. Under a standard possession order, the non-custodial parent would have Thursday from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. (or return to school Friday a.m. if it is extended standard possession order). In the event of an extended standard possession order, there would be a provision in the decree dealing with the time the children are returned if school is not in session. Typically it is like 8:00 a.m. or something. Refer to your decree for that language. If there is no language similar to that, then the return needs to be agreed upon by the parties.

  26. Chris Schmiedeke March 22, 2016 at 11:48 am #

    You have stumbled upon a grey area. It is not your weekend so the extended weekend because of holidays section does not apply. Under the strict terms of the order, I would bet is states that Spring Break states that it starts when the kids are released for Spring Break, and not teacher in-service. We used to run into this problem all the time with Thanksgiving holiday. The kids were technically out for thanksgiving on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. However, school districts would schedule in-servie days on Monday and Tuesday. The same issue would arise as you are having every thanksgiving. The legislature finally fixed it by changing the thanksgiving language to include in-service days. Problem solved.

    To my knowledge, they have not done the same with Spring Break. So, long story short, there is no answer to your question. Commons sense tells us Spring Break starts Thursday. The strict reading of the order probably says it starts on Friday.

  27. R. Parr March 22, 2016 at 12:04 pm #

    A. Esparza I Think you are wondering the same as me and I don’t see the answer.

    Since my divorce is written as joint conservators and I designate the primary residence, the other parents Thursdays are carved out in the decree. What is not clear, and I believe is what you are asking,is if during my time of possession the children have a holiday on Friday (Luke Good Friday for Easter), does the same extended rule apply?. Since Thursdays are typically the other parents carved out time, does that mean when the children are released on Thursday, does my weekend of possession start since Friday is a holiday?

  28. Chris Schmiedeke March 22, 2016 at 12:36 pm #

    I think I understand what you are saying. A custodial parent (CP) under a standard possession order does not have weekend visitations. They have possession of the child at all other times that the non-custodial (NCP) does not have possession (which obviously includes some weekends, and a lot of weekdays).

    The provision you are referring to (extended weekends because of holidays) does not apply to the CP, only the NCP. You are over analyzing your order. Just read your order as to what sections apply to whom.

  29. Louis Estrada March 24, 2016 at 10:19 am #

    I have Thursday visits starting at 6pm and ending upon return to school Friday morning. What if Friday is a school holiday? Drop-off time and location is then not specified.

  30. Chris Schmiedeke March 24, 2016 at 12:01 pm #

    Review the comments on Holiday Possessions. This has been a hot topic.

  31. Kelly March 30, 2016 at 11:06 am #

    Could you please tell me what the definition of (cannot exercise your right to possession)? My ex husband and myself have two different understandings of the definition to this and wanted to find out what the exact one is. My understanding is if you’re not capable as in saying he went to another country and wasn’t capable of taking our child for his possession and had his parents take possession of her while he was out of the country without notifying me. His definition is every time she goes to visit my parents, her grandparents in the summer while in my possession. Which our daughter also goes to his parents her other grandparents home every summer to and he does not notify me. Which doesn’t bother my because he is in the country and if any medical issues arise he could meet them at the hospital and sign off on any procedures or such. Thank you for all your help

  32. Donnell March 31, 2016 at 11:47 am #

    We have possession of our son once a month since the child’s mother chose to move out of state. We choose to pick up our son from school as stated in our order we can. School gets out at 2:10pm but the mother insists that the school makes us wait until her mother can release the child to us at the school. She is often 30 mins or later late which causes us to be late for our plane and have to purchase additional tickets. Do we have to wait on her mother or can the school directly release him to my wife or I. Orders also say i can elect an adult in my absence and i chose my wife. The school has her information along with a copy of the order

  33. Chris Schmiedeke March 31, 2016 at 12:03 pm #

    This really depends on the school and their procedures. What does the school say? If the order says when school is dismissed and the school says it’s okay, then pick up when school is dismissed. If school will not do it, then you may need to modify your order or just follow their rules.

  34. Chris Schmiedeke March 31, 2016 at 12:06 pm #

    I don’t understand what you are asking.

  35. Kyle March 31, 2016 at 4:20 pm #

    When do you have to begin l living 100 miles away to get the 42 days in summer?
    We will be moving in may. Would that qualify us?

  36. John Johnston April 5, 2016 at 6:43 pm #

    I am the custodial parent and my daughters mother just set her 30 days extended summer visitation. She split them up into 2 weeks. Ok no problem and we both agreed. So I just gave her notice of the dates that I am am going to take for my Summer possession (which is during her 30 days) and my extended visitation which is a weekend that she would normally have visitation but does not interfere with her summer schedule. She came back claiming I do not get my summer possesion weekend because she split up her 30 days. I have read the orders already numerous of times and even went back through today to see if it says anything close to that. Nothing! So I asked her to please send me where it says that because I cant find it. She just comes back at me saying I dont get that weekend and that’s that. She even forwarded an email from her old attorney’s paralegal,which they became friends, stating that I don’t get that weekend if she splits up her 30 days. So I emailed the paralegal atating please show me in the orders where it states that and she came back at me saying she is not legal council and no longer represents my ex wife.Is there some unwritten rule that I am not understanding. My friends who have to deal with the same thing are baffled and say there orders do not say anything like that. Thank J

  37. marissa April 7, 2016 at 9:24 pm #

    When writing a writen notice by April 15 of each year with joint custody for any one weekend what should be said in the notice? Also if he has not reported a adress change and lives with a sex offender how can I keep my son away from the sex offender if he is not on parole or probation? Just a modification?

  38. Eve April 8, 2016 at 9:18 pm #

    Hi Chris,

    Our order contains the SPO language when it comes to summer possession. My husband is NCP and sent his ex-wife a certified letter and text message designating July 8 through August 7 as the extended summer period this year. She has neglected to collect the letter from the postal service nor acknowledge receipt of the dates in any way. We are worried that she will try to enforce the July 1-31 default. Can we do anything to prevent a custody struggle this summer or do we need to wait until she fails to turn over the children on July 8 and then file a motion to enforce? (also, we have a pending motion to enforce over property which is scheduled to be heard prior to July, do you know if that is something that could be expanded to pre-empt any hi-jinx with the summer possession?)

    Thank you!

  39. Dawn Armstrong April 10, 2016 at 11:40 am #

    Question about SPO weekends for 1st, 3rd, 5th weekends for parents who reside less than 100 miles and when school starts back in the fall. Does the parent who normally has the child on 1st, 3rd and 5th weekend still get child the weekend before school starts if school starts on Monday following the 3rd weekend? And if parent does still get child that 3rd weekend, do they have to return by 6pm Sunday since school term technically hasn’t begun yet? Or, would that patent be able to take child to school that Monday morning? TIA

  40. Elisabeth April 14, 2016 at 9:58 pm #

    I have a question. My husband has the Texas extended standard possession order for his son. We have him the weekend before the first day of school. The entire week before is teacher in-service for his school district and the Friday prior is a teacher preparation day. Would we get to take him to school on his first day back or would we have to bring him back to his mom’s at 6 PM on Sunday. I am uncertain about the official meaning of regular school term. The difference would be in whether we are following summer visitation at that time or school year visitation.

  41. JoeMike April 15, 2016 at 6:22 pm #

    I have a standard possession but have had several issues with the mother of my kids not giving me her address every time she moves and I can’t get a hold of my kids. I told her she is required to give me her address to pick up my kids. But it states in the order that I pick them up at her residence and drop them off. Now she is telling me she has to have my address also but I told her no. She keeps telling me I am violating the order but I don’t see anywhere on it she needs to know where I live. I don’t give it to her because she has attacked my wife several times so as long as I am picking them up and dropping them off she does not need to have mine. Am I violating the court order?

  42. BettyJohnson April 17, 2016 at 4:04 pm #

    I have a question. I get the kids in June an one weekend in July cause that’s his mth to keep them does he get to choose a weekend in June? Our divorce decree doesn’t say he does but he keeps telling me he gets them.

  43. Justinfisher May 11, 2016 at 11:50 am #

    Mothers Day weekend was the 1st weekend. She gets her because its mothers day. Since May only has 4 weeks, that leaves me just one weekend for the month. I asked for the following weekend and she said no. I don’t get any extra time?

  44. Chris Schmiedeke May 11, 2016 at 12:47 pm #

    Under a standard possession order the answer is no. Not sure if you have standard visitation or not.

  45. Chris Schmiedeke May 11, 2016 at 12:48 pm #

    I have no idea as I am not looking at your order and you have not indicated if you have standard visitation or not. If you do, the 1st, 3rd and 5th weekends continue throughout the summer.

  46. Randi May 21, 2016 at 10:33 am #

    I have a question. My husband has custody of his daughter. In the summer we do week on week off. Per the order we get to designate a 2 week period & so does his ex. We all did the required written requests. But, when requesting 2 weeks, we all end up with 3 following the standard order of possession in the summers. His ex is saying that we can’t have 3, so we need to flip flop our weekends. But, nowhere in the papers does it say that the standard visitation would change. My question is how do we fix this. Do we flip flop weekends or stick to the stands order. Or pick one of the others weekends to make 2 code consecutive weekends?

  47. Kelly May 23, 2016 at 4:02 pm #

    I am curious about Memorial Day weekend. I have possession this Memorial Day weekend, but he has the weekly visitation on Mondays from 6-8. Does he get them during my holiday weekend?

  48. Texas Mamma May 25, 2016 at 4:54 pm #

    I currently have an order for SPO with exceptions of 5th weekend. The NCP gave up the right to have visitation the 5th weekend. It was made when he lived over 100 miles from me. He has been back in the same town for the past two years and NOW he wants to follow SPO including Thursdays and the 5th weekends. My question is is that true? It automatically changes to SPO for all visitation? (1st,3rd,5th weekend and Thursdays and 30days in summer) or am I right, the only thing that would change would be we alternate spring break now, he only gets 30 days in summer,and he gets just 1st and 3rd weekends only like we agreed on in the court order. Or is that all void since it was agreed on when he lived over 100 miles.

  49. Carolyn Ridout May 25, 2016 at 7:05 pm #

    This always stumps me….I know that under SPO in Texas if the NPO lives within 100 miles of the child they are entitled to 30 days of visitation, but does this negate the 1st, 3rd and 5th schedule? In my case, my ex takes his 30 days around this 1st, 3rd and 5th (and then I take back my allowances for standard possession and extended summer possesion) but he still ends up with 38 days. This doesn’t feel right to me and I’ve never been able to understand it. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


  50. Chris Schmiedeke May 26, 2016 at 12:18 pm #

    They get extended summer possession of thirty days and outside of that they get the 1st, 3rd and 5th weekends of the summer months. The CP gets one weekend inside the extended summer possession, one weekend outside the extended summer possession (both after proper notice) and all other times that the NCP does not have them.

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