Can I Get 50/50 Possession of My Kids?

The answer is:  Maybe.

The Texas Family Code contains certain presumptions about what is in the best interest of children.  One of those presumptions is the “Standard Possession Order”.  That’s covered in more detail in a different blog, but essentially one parent has possession on the 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekends of each month and on Thursdays during the school year.  Holidays and summer are split almost equally.

In recent years, however, some Judges are trending toward more equalized possession.  In 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, for households with 2 parents and children under 18, both parents worked 61.9% of the time.  This is a significant change from 1974 when the Family Code was originally expanded to specify visitation rights and periods of possession.

As with many issues in child custody matters, the result depends on the facts of the particular case.  If one parent historically took care of the children during the marriage, and the other parent worked full time or travelled for work and was absent from the home on a regular basis, that might not be a situation where 50/50 would be ordered.  However, if both parents are actively involved on a daily basis and the children are bonded to both parents, a 50/50 schedule might work.  Of course, if the parents agree to a 50/50 schedule, the Court will almost certainly approve the agreement.

Practically speaking, 50/50 possession will not work without 2 things: (1) the parents get along and will work together for the best interest of the kids; and (2) the parents must live relatively close together.  If each parent has the children half the time, they must be able to co-parent.  Most kids have multiple activities, and the parents must be able to coordinate schedules, attend appointments, and keep up with school work and health care.  Additionally, the kids will attend only one school and it is problematic if one parent lives a significant distance from the school and from the other parent.

A 50/50 schedule, in practice, can take numerous forms.  The first most common form is a “week-on/week-off” schedule, which is self-explanatory.  Usually, the exchange will occur on Friday afternoon, Sunday afternoon, or Monday morning.  The next most common form is a “2/2/5/5 wrap” schedule.  One parent will have Monday and Tuesday of each week, the other parent will have Wednesday and Thursday of each week, and the parents will alternate weekends.  Typically, the schedule continues through the summer, with a period for each parent to have some extended time for vacation – perhaps 7 or 14 consecutive days.  Holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Spring Break will be consistent year-to-year and will supersede the regular schedule.