The Texas Standard Possession Order (SPO) is a default visitation schedule that was created by the Texas legislature and is defined in the Texas Family Code.  It is used in the  majority of Texas divorce cases involving kids. Reading the actual language of the Standard Possession Order (SPO) can be difficult because it is very lengthy. The Standard Possession Order statute is found in the Texas Family Code Section 153.3101 through 153.317.

When you are going through your divorce, you do not have to agree to the Standard Possession Order (SPO). You can enter into any agreement with your spouse that you believe is best for your children.  If you cannot reach an agreement with your spouse, you can ask the judge to enter the SPO or to enter it with some modifications.

If you already have a divorce or custody order, you need to refer to your order for guidance because every order has its own provisions and changes to the SPO. If you are confused by your order, it is a good idea to ask an attorney to help you review your order.

Please remember that this article is designed to simply give a brief overview of the statute and how its key provisions work when the standard language is used without any edits or tweaks.

In addition, I have created a 2013 Texas Standard Possession Order Calendar to assist you in understanding the Texas Standard Possession Order.

Here are some key provisions in the Texas Standard Possession Order. 

Weekend Visitation

The non-primary parent has weekend periods of possession beginning on the first, third, and fifth Fridays of each month. The weekend possession can either begin at 6:00 p.m. or when school is dismissed. The weekend possession ends at either 6:00 p.m. on Sunday or Monday morning when school resumes.

Thursday Visitation

The non-primary is also entitled to visitation every Thursday during the school year. This visitation can either be from 6:00 p.m.- 8:00 p.m. on Thursday or on Thursday from the time school is dismissed and then ending on Friday morning when school resumes.

Holiday Visitation

It is very important that you check the language in your order for holidays.  Holiday periods are frequently modified by court. Also, when you looking at your order, you will typically see language that says the holiday periods trump the weekend and Thursday visitation periods. In other words, if there is a conflict the holiday schedule applies, not the weekend or Thursday schedules.

Summer – Generally, when parents live within 100 miles of each other, the non-primary parent gets 30 days in the summer. The 30 days can be exercised in either one or two periods of at least ten days each. The non-primary parent is required to notify the other parent in writing of the summer schedule by April 1. If no notice is given then the default period is July 1 through July 31.

Christmas – In alternating years each parent gets either the first half or the second half of the Christmas break.

Thanksgiving – In odd-numbered years the non-primary parent has possession during the Thanksgiving break. In even-numbered years Thanksgiving goes to the primary parent.

Spring Break – In even-numbered years the non-primary parent has possession during Spring Break. In odd-numbered years this period goes to the primary parent.

Mother’s & Father’s Day weekends –Dad gets possession of the child during the Father’s day weekend and  Moms get possession of the child during the Mother’s Day weekend.

Child’s Birthday – For the parent that does not have regularly scheduled possession of the child on the child’s birthday, that parent gets possession from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on that day.