Parents want as much time as possible with their children. Accordingly, questions relating to child custody and visitation rights are typically a primary concern of separating and divorcing parents. Our seasoned Pearland visitation lawyers understand how important a quality relationship with your children is to you. Therefore, our team of caring family attorneys could work with you to gain the visitation rights you and your children deserve.

How is Visitation Determined in Pearland?

Unlike many states that refer to court-ordered time with a child as visitation, Texas law uses ‘possession and access’ to refer to a parent’s physical possession of their child during scheduled times. Possession and access are generally granted to a parent who does not have primary or shared custody of their child.

In a divorce or custody case, parents can agree on a possession and access schedule. As long as it serves the child’s best interests, a judge is likely to approve it. However, if the parents disagree on how to divide visitation time, a family court judge must determine a schedule based on factors like:

  • The child’s gender, age, and health
  • Each parent’s physical and mental health
  • Each parent’s capacity to meet the child’s needs
  • The child’s quality of life in each parent’s home and neighborhood
  • The child’s relationship with each parent

A court may also consider a child’s preference if they are over 12 years old and mature enough to have a reasoned opinion. A lawyer in Pearland could determine what factors a judge may consider when making a decision on visitation.

Standard Possession and Access Orders in Custody Disputes

In cases where a child spends most of their time with one parent, the other parent still has the right to substantial time with them. According to state policy, parents must maintain a stable environment for their child while encouraging a healthy relationship between the child and both parents.  Texas Family Code §153.152 sets guidelines for the visiting parent’s time with the child, known as a Standard Possession Order (SPO). When parents live within 100 miles of one another and have children aged three or older, state law presumes that the following possession and access schedule is in the child’s best interests:

  • On weekends from 6:00 p.m. on the first, third, and fifth Friday of each month to 6:00 p.m. on the following Sunday
  • On Thursdays during the school year from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
  • On the child’s birthdy from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on the child’s birthday
  • For 30 days during the summer
    • If the visiting parent gives notice before April 1st, they may designate the 30 days during the summer in up to two separate periods of at least seven days
    • If no notice is given, the visiting parent has possession from July 1st until July 31st
  • Fathers have possession on Father’s Day from 6:00 p.m. on the Friday before until 6:00 p.m. on Father’s Day, and Mothers have the same period on Mother’s Day

An SPO also provides time with the visiting parent during the child’s spring break, on Thanksgiving, and during the Christmas holiday. Because an SPO can significantly impact the parent-child relationship, a parent facing a visitation should discuss their options with a skilled Pearland attorney.

Visitation Schedules May be Customized to Meet a Child’s Needs

If a couple has a child under three, a judge could order a different schedule based on the child’s needs and the parent’s circumstances. The visiting parent may gain overnight visitation as long as they are capable of caring for the young child.

When parents reside more than 100 miles away from each other, certain holiday visitation schedules remain the same as in an SPO. However, the visiting parent may also be granted 42 days during the summer and can choose between the first, third, and fifth-week schedules or one weekend a month with 14 days’ notice. A trusted lawyer in Pearland could help draft a visitation schedule that maximizes the child’s stability and ensures substantial time with both parents.

Seek Guidance from a Pearland Visitation Attorney

Any legal action affecting the parent-child relationship can be emotional and contentious. Both parents want substantial time with their child and determining a schedule that meets everyone’s needs is often challenging. A capable Pearland visitation lawyer could help you better understand your legal rights and options moving forward. Call a caring attorney from our firm today to discuss securing a visitation schedule that prioritizes your child’s needs and protects your relationship with them.