What does “possession and access” mean in a Texas order?

As I described in my post on conservatorship, any order involving a child custody issue in Texas will cover two issues:  conservatorship and “possession and access.”  Conservatorship deals with rights.   The section on “possession and access” sets forth the schedule for when each parent has possession of the child.  This is the part of the order that most people think of when they use the term “custody.”

The vast majority of orders will start the possession and access section by stating that possession shall be as agreed by the parties.  This gives the parents the freedom to adjust the schedule to fit their needs and the needs of the child.

The order will then go on to set forth a specific schedule for visitation that applies in the absence of an agreement.  It could include a standard possession order, an expanded standard possession order, or some other customized order crafted for the specific family.  In Dallas County and Collin County, you can generally create any reasonable schedule you want as long as the parents agree it is in the best interest of the child.  If the case is not agreed and ends up with a trial, most judges will order either a standard possession order or an expanded standard possession order (assuming there is no family violence or other reason to restrict someone’s access to the child).  Some people get along well and agree to deviate from the schedule on a regular basis, and others stick rigidly to the schedule.

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