Standard Possession Order – PART 2

SPO = Standard Possession Order, and in this edition of the blog we’ll look at the nuts and bolts of SPO.  It actually has two levels of possession, the first for divorced parents who live within 100 miles of one another, and a second for those who don’t.  We’ll look at the “under 100 mile” parents in this blog.

For starters, the weekends are SPO’s bread and butter.  Custodial parent (CP – the parent who decides where the kids will live) and non-custodial parent (NCP) divide up the weekends thusly – NCP gets the weekends which follow the 1st, 3rd and any 5th Fridays.  CP gets the others.  The weekends go throughout the year, both during the school year and in the summer, but are superseded by holidays and periods of extended summer possession of the other parent.  In other words, if the NCP’s holiday time falls during the CP’s regular weekend possession then the NCP’s possession trumps.

There is an oddity about the 1-3-5 scheme, and it’s that the fifth Friday can be the last day of that month.  Halloween, for example, can fall on the fifth Friday (Oct. 31st) making the weekend of November 1st – 2nd the NCP’s weekend, even though that weekend is – to the rest of the world – the first weekend in November.  And the Friday which follows Halloween – November 7th – is the first weekend in November so – guess what? – NCP gets that weekend, too.

So who came up with this 1-3-5 thing, anyway?  And why?

The legislature wrote it, and they did it to replace what we used to have, which was the parents had every other (alternating) weekends.  That’s great until, years after divorce, there’s a disagreement over whose weekend it is.  How can you tell?  By going back over calendars and counting out the weekends.  There’s no simple solution.

1-3-5 solved that problem.  Makes it possible for divorced parents to look at any month in any year and know immediately which weekends belong to NCP (the weekends following the 1-3-5 Fridays) and to CP (the weekends following the 2-4 Fridays).  This allows a divorced parent to plan his/her trips and vacations knowing he/she won’t run afoul of the other parent’s weekend.  A major improvement over the old scheme.

The next major piece of SPO is holidays and spring break.  The only traditional holidays recognized by SPO are Thanksgiving and Xmas.  Quite simply, one year NCP gets all of spring break, CP gets all of Thanksgiving, NCP gets Xmas vacation through noon on 28th and CP gets the remainder of Xmas.  And the next year they flip.

Mom always gets Mothers’ Day weekend and Dad always gets Father’s Day weekend.

For summers, NCP can select thirty consecutive days.  Has to give notice by April 1st or he/she defaults to July 1st – 31st.

And that’s pretty much it.  Fairly straightforward.  And workable.

Grace and peace.

Mark Lewis   

(For additional information on Standard Possession Orders, click here)