Possession and Access

Possession and Access


Child custody — in divorces, suits affecting the parent-child relationship and modifications — can be one of the most hotly contested aspects in a family law case. When parents cannot agree on a custody plan, the court decides whether to establish a Joint Managing Conservatorship (joint custody) or Sole Managing Conservatorship (sole custody). The decision as to what type of conservatorship will be awarded to whom, as well as the child’s primary residence and the visitation schedule, are based on the best interest of the child.

Questions for a child custody lawyer? Please call us at 214-340-8515.

Dedicated Divorce Lawyer
The Law Office of Ellen Schutz provides diligent divorce representation. Ellen has more than 20 years of experience handling conservatorship, visitation and other related issues. As a dedicated family law attorney, she will incorporate your short and long-term goals to develop a parenting plan that benefits the entire family, parents and children.

Texas law presumes that divorcing parents will be awarded Joint Managing Conservatorship of their children. Joint managing conservatorship is not just the amount of time a parent spends with the children. In Texas, joint legal custody addresses the parents’ post-divorce:

  • Rights and duties
  • Responsibilities to their children

In the typical Joint Managing Conservatorship, both parents share most of these rights, duties and responsibilities, though they may be independent rights and duties or rights and duties subject to the agreement of the other conservator or rights and duties awarded exclusively to one parent. In the event that child support has been awarded or the parents agree on child support, there is one parent given the exclusive right to receive child support. Recent legislation has made it not mandatory to designate a primary residence for the children, however in situations where a primary residence is designated for the children, there is usually one parent that is given the exclusive right to designate the child’s primary residence.

There are some instances where one parent can be awarded Sole Managing Conservatorship, which authorizes that parent to make the majority of the decisions as well as have the majority of the legal rights pertaining to the child.

Creative Visitation Scheduling Solutions
The conservators of a child are given the ability to reach an agreement regarding possession and access schedules with the child. They are free to craft a visitation schedule that works with their lifestyle and is in the best interest of the child. In the event that the parents cannot agree on a visitation schedule, the court will make the decision for them.

The Texas Family Code presumes the following standard visitation schedule for parents of children age three (3) and over who live within 100 miles of each other. The visiting parent has visitation:

  • On weekends starting at 6:00 p.m. on the first, third and fifth Friday of each month and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the following Sunday (options are to start when school is dismissed on Fridays and/or to end when school resumes, usually on the next Monday morning).
  • On Thursdays during the school year starting at 6:00 p.m. and ending at 8:00 p.m. (options are to start when school is dismissed and/or to end when school resumes, usually on the next Friday morning).
  • From 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on the child’s birthday.
  • In even-numbered years: During Spring Break and for Christmas from the time school lets out until noon on December 28; the managing conservator has possession on Thanksgiving, and on December 28 until 6 p.m. on the day before school resumes after that vacation. In odd-numbered years, the holiday schedule is reversed.
  • For thirty (30) days during the summer. If the visiting parent gives notice before April 1, he or she may designate the 30 days during the summer when he or she has possession in up to two separate periods of at least seven (7) days. If no notice is given, the visiting parent has possession from July 1 until July 31.
  • Fathers have possession on Father’s Day from 6:00 p.m. on the Friday before Father’s Day until 6:00 p.m. on Father’s Day. Mothers have the same period on Mother’s Day.

When the parents live more than 100 miles apart, visitation on Thanksgiving, Christmas, the child’s birthday, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day remain the same. The visiting parent also is allowed 42 days with the child during the summer and can follow the first, third, and fifth weekend schedule or choose to select one weekend a month with 14 days advance notice.

When a child is under the age of three (3), and depending upon the child’s needs and the parents’ circumstances, most courts will establish a customized visitation schedule that could include overnight visitation.

The parents are free to agree between themselves on the visitation schedule and if that is not possible, the terms of the Standard Visitation Schedule will be followed. The Standard Visitation Schedule can be modified to fit the individual needs of the parties and the children.

One common solution for today’s busy parents is the expanded basic visitation. Under this parenting plan, one conservator would get the child Thursday evening after school is dismissed until the start of school each Friday during the school term and on the first, third and fifth Fridays of each month beginning at the time that school is dismissed until school resumes on the flowing Monday.

The firm has extensive experience with complex visitation and parenting plan issues. The Law Office of Ellen Schutz also provides guidance for:

  • Unmarried parents
  • Domestic violence
  • Grandparents’ rights
  • Parental drug or alcohol abuse
  • Children with special needs

Phone Consultations
Please contact The Law Office of Ellen Schutz today to discuss your legal issue. The firm provides phone consultations at 214-340-8515, or you can send an e-mail. Se habla español. The firm is centrally located in Dallas.