Once the determination has been made regarding conservatorship (also known as custody) of a child, it naturally follows that possession and access to the child between the conservators must be decided, so that visitation and length of stay with each conservator can be clearly defined. Possession and access, as used in the Texas Family Code, determine who has the superior right to the child at any given time once an order has been rendered. At the forefront of any possession and access analysis is the consideration of what’s going to be in the child’s best interest. Our North Texas child visitation rights lawyers have decades of experience handling child visitation cases and can help you adjust possession and access.
Possession and access typically fall into three categories:
Typically, conservatorship cases involve only the two parties who have been appointed either as joint managing conservators, one of whom has the right to designate the primary residence of the child, or a sole managing conservator has been appointed and the other party is named a possessory conservator. In either case, the Texas Family Code provides a standard possession order to allocate the time between the parties, which sets the default periods of possession. However, the parents may agree to different periods of possession, visitation, or other custody agreements as the need arises.
The standard possession order as set forth in the Texas Family Code is presumed by the Texas Legislature to be in the best interest of the child, with the sole caveat that it applies to children who are three years old or older. Prior to a child reaching the age of three, the possession and access of the child are left solely to the discretion of the Texas courts. This means that a court can decide the terms of visitation with your child if they are under three years old.
Although the standard possession order is the only possession schedule that is set forth in the Texas family code, the Court does have the ability to deviate from the standard possession order. To deviate from the standard possession order, it must be demonstrated to the court that the standard possession order is not in the child’s best interest.
Although Texas litigants can have a jury decide some family law issues, an important thing to understand is that the terms of child visitation cannot be determined by a jury. The judge presiding over the case will be the sole decision maker in terms of access and visitation with the child if the parties cannot reach an agreement. There are numerous reasons why a court may be willing to deviate from the standard possession order, and a fact-intensive analysis of those reasons may result in a parent having more or less time with their children than what is set forth in the standard possession order.
The attorneys at Orsinger, Nelson, Downing, & Anderson recognize that each case is unique. Our family law attorneys are well versed in crafting visitation, possession and access schedules to suit the individual needs of the client and child. Contact us today to help craft the best possession and access scenario for you and your child.