For some parents, the Standard Possession Order does not fit with their situation or their children. Parents may either agree that an alternate schedule is in the best interest of the child, or a court may order a different schedule. For example, some parents choose to implement a plan where the child spends one week with one parent and the next week with the other parent. Other parents create more complex schedules for possession of the children. Even if the court enters a standard possession order, parents are still free to modify it by mutual agreement. So long as both the parties agree, there is no limit to the parties’ authority to change their respective visitation periods. Here are some suggestions for other non-standard possession schedules that divorce lawyers in Dallas Tx have used:
Under this type of schedule, the parents choose one day of the week to exchange the children, usually either Friday, Sunday, or Monday. So, every Friday the children will switch houses for the upcoming week. Some families prefer this situation, as it provides each parent the opportunity to spend a longer period with the child and to act as a parent in more of the normal parenting situations than weekend periods provide. On the other hand, some families find difficulty in this schedule because it requires more coordination between the parents on homework, doctors visits, extracurricular activity schedules, and other activities of the child.
Some children find that they miss the other parent during a week-on/week-off scenario, so a shorter but equal schedule works better. One suggestion for such a schedule would be the 3/2/2/3 schedule. Under this type of schedule, parent “A” would have the children for a three-day period, say Monday through Wednesday. Then, parent “B” would get two days, Thursday and Friday. Then, the children would return to parent “A” for Saturday and Sunday. The next week, parent “B” would get the 3 days, Monday through Wednesday. Then, parent “A” would get the middle two days; followed by parent “B” getting Saturday and Sunday. There are many variations of this type of equal schedule.
In some counties, judges will allow more vague provisions for possession of the child, recognizing the realities of teenager’s lives and preferences. Under such a scenario, the schedule would provide that the non-primary parent is allowed possession of the child at all such times as that parent and the child agree.
Children under the age of three present unique hurdles in crafting a possession schedule. Research shows that children between birth and the age of three have various developmental stages with regard to short-term and long-term memory. For example, a three-month old child will have virtually no long-term memory, so both parents need frequent contact with the child, say every day or two, so the child establishes a bond with both parents. However, such visits may be shorter in duration, say for a couple of hours, as the child’s attention span is shorter. As the child grows, the long-term memory and bonding become more established, allowing for longer periods at one time, with more time in between each visit.
On occasion, a parent may have issues such as substance addiction, domestic violence, or simply separation from the child, that suggest supervision of the parenting times may be warranted. In such situations, the supervised possession schedule will have to be very tailored to the individual circumstance. Usually, such supervised possession will occur during day-time hours on alternating Saturdays. Most often, judges appoint a facility to handle the supervision to ensure that the supervisor is trained in recognizing signs of inappropriate conduct. Sometimes, however, a judge will find an individual, known to both parties, that would be competent to act as supervisor. It is imperative, if the supervisor is an individual, that he or she be committed to protecting the child’s interest over and above the parent’s interest.
On occasion, there may be a situation where a parent has not seen the child for a period of time, requiring some adjustment schedule to allow the child to get used to the other parent. In such situations, a stair-step schedule can be used effectively to accommodate the child’s adjustment. For example, stage 1, lasting a couple of months, might involve a few hours during the daytime on a couple of days per month, like every other Saturday. Then, stage 2, for another couple of months, might provide the child spends the night with the non-primary parent overnight for those same days, every other Saturday overnight to Sunday. Stage 3 might progress to more of a schedule similar to the standard periods, beginning Friday at 6:00 p.m. until Sunday at 6:00 p.m. That stage might continue for another couple of months. Then, Stage 4 would progress to the Standard Possession Schedule.