Alternate Visitation Schedules in Austin, Texas Divorce Cases

Alternate Visitation SchedulesIn general Courts will usually defer to parents when it comes to deciding a possession schedule for their children. Usually the Courts feel that a parent knows their children best and will put the interest of the children first when fashioning a possession schedule.   The Courts understand that this does not always mean the use a standard possession schedule.

If you are considering asking for a possession schedule that is different from a standard possession schedule there are important things for you to consider.   The first thing to understand is that the Standard Possession Schedule is the presumption in Texas. That means when you walk into court, without any evidence, this schedule is the starting point.   The next thing to understand is what it takes for the Court to vary from the standard possession schedule.

When the Court considers varying from a standard possession schedule, there are certain factors that a court is required to look at. These factors are set out in the Texas Family Code as follows:

Section 153.256. Factors for Court to Consider

In ordering the terms of possession of a child under an order other than a standard possession order, the court shall be guided by the guidelines established by the standard possession order and may consider:

(1) the age, developmental status, circumstances, needs, and best interest of the child;

(2) the circumstances of the managing conservator and of the parent named as a possessory conservator; and

(3) any other relevant factor.

Some factors that the Courts look at are the time each parent has been spending with the child such as involvement in the child’s school and education, involvement in the child’s extracurricular activities, involvement in the child’s medical needs, who wakes up the child, who feeds the child, who takes care of homework, who gets the child ready for bed, etc.   Basically, the court is looking at each parent’s total involvement in the child’s life. The more involved both parents are in these things the better the argument is for a modified possession schedule.

When most people think of modifying a possession schedule it is often to request a possession schedule that equally divides time with the child between the parents. The good news is that Courts are receptive to this request if you give the Judge the evidence to support such a possession schedule.

The two most frequently used equal time possession schedules are the week on/week/off and then 2-2-5-5.   The week on/week off schedule is just that; the child spends one week with one parent and then spends the following week with the other parent. Sometimes parents who use this schedule will modify it to allow dinner with the other parent during the week or even an overnight in the middle of the week, so that neither parent goes a week without seeing the children.

The 2-2-5-5 schedule has one parent having the child each Monday and Tuesday and the other parent having each Wednesday and Thursday and then the parents alternate weekends. One week a parent will have their two days; Monday and Tuesday or Wednesday and Thursday and then the next week your two days will wrap into the weekend giving you five consecutive days.   A benefit for this possession schedule is that the child knows if it is Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, where he or she will be that night.

The most important thing to remember when considering a request for a modified possession schedule is that it is your burden to provide the court with the evidence that it needs to find such an order to be in the best interest of your child. It is best to work with your attorney and discuss the evidence you plan to present to support such a possession schedule.

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