Understanding Texas Child Custody: SPO vs. ESPO

When it comes to child custody arrangements in Texas, parents often encounter terms like SPO and ESPO. But what do these acronyms mean, and how do they impact visitation schedules? Let’s dig into the details.

Standard Possession Order (SPO)

The Standard Possession Order serves as the default visitation schedule when parents cannot agree on specific possession times and days. Here are the key points:

  • Weekends: The noncustodial parent typically has the child on the first, third, and fifth weekends of each month.
  • Holidays: The SPO outlines holiday visitation, including Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other significant events.
  • Spring Break: The noncustodial parent gets extended time during spring break.
  • Summer Vacation: The SPO allocates specific weeks during the summer for the noncustodial parent.

Additionally, parents can choose an “election” schedule based on the distance between their residences. The three options are:

  1. 50 Miles Apart or Less
  2. 51 to 100 Miles Apart
  3. 100 Miles Apart

Expanded Standard Possession Order (ESPO)

The ESPO is an enhanced version of the SPO, providing more time for the noncustodial parent. Recent changes in Texas law have made the ESPO even more favorable:

  • 50-Mile Radius: If the non-custodial parent lives within 50 miles of the custodial parent, they automatically qualify for the ESPO.
  • Increased Visitation: Under the new law, parents within the 50-mile radius can possess the child for more than 40 percent of the time (previously, it was only 20 to 24 percent).
  • Not Mandatory: Importantly, the 50-mile possession order is optional; parents can continue following the SPO if it better suits their situation.

In Summary

  • The SPO provides a baseline visitation schedule.
  • The ESPO offers more overnight visits and longer summer vacations.
  • The court can modify possession orders based on the child’s best interests.

Understanding your rights and responsibilities is crucial during custody proceedings. Whether you follow the SPO or opt for the ESPO, prioritize your child’s well-being above all else.

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