The standard possession order is the custody schedule that is most typically ordered in Texas divorces involving children.  This order dictates that one parent will have the child except for every other weekend, every Thursday night, every other holiday, and except for a long period in the summer.

This custody agreement does not suit all parents, and as such the Family Code allows us to deviate from the presumed schedule.  When doing so, there should be a finding in the decree of divorce stating why the schedule is not the Standard Possession Order.  By adding the finding, you as the draftsmen are signifying to the court that you understand that there is a presumed schedule, but that in this case, it is not appropriate.

The basis for deviating from the standard schedule can be anything that mentions the factors that the court is supposed to consider.

What Factors Does the Court Consider For Child Visitation Schedules?

  • the wishes and desires of the children
  • the parenting history of the parties
  • the health or psychological needs or condition of the children or the parties
  • the living environment of the parties
  • the level of conflict between the parties
  • the developmental needs of the children
  • the  children’s  school  or  extracurricular  activity schedules
  • the ages of the children
  • the children’s tolerance for change and flexibility
  • any substance abuse problems of the parties
  • the distance between the parties’ residences
  • the financial situations of the parties

Example Deviation Finding Language to Add Just Before the Custody Schedule in the Decree:

THE COURT FINDS that during the 9-year separation of the Parties, that they have successfully shared the duties and responsibilities of raising the Child of this Suit.  The Parties have lived in close proximity, and have been actively involved in homework, school activities, teacher meetings, holidays and all events surrounding the Child’s life.  THE COURT FINDS that is it is the mutual expectation of the Parties that the same amicable arrangement will continue.   In the event that either Party of this Suit finds it necessary to enforce a specific schedule, the following Orders shall apply