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What's the Difference between "Custody" and "Possession"

A Term that gets thrown around frequently by clients is"50/50 custody." Generally, what parents mean when they say this, is that they would like to have physical possession of the child 50% of the time.

Custody is an umbrella term that encompasses both conservatorship and possession and access of the child.  Conservatorship is the legal authority to make decisions concerning where the child lives, along with medical and educational decisions for the child.  Possession and access to the child is governed by a possession schedule in a court order that the parents follow.

Typically, parties are named "joint managing conservators," unless it is not in the best interest of the child for both parents to be actively involved in the authority to make decisions regarding the child. Typically, one parent will have the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child. Other rights and duties, such as the authority to make medical and educational decisions for the child will be either designated to one parent or shared between parents.

In a final order or divorce decree. The parties will have a designated possession schedule. The Standard Possession Order, laid out in the Texas Family Code, gives one parent possession and access to the child on Thursday evenings from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m., the first, third, and fifth weekends of the month, and 30 days in the summer. There are also special provisions for school and government holidays.

Often, both parents want to spend equal amounts of time with the child. Although the Texas Family Code's Standard Possession Order is not quite an equal amount of time to both parents, there are other creative possession schedules, usually agreed upon during the alternative dispute resolution process that provide a workable solution for families looking to spend equal time with the child.

Some of the possession schedules that we see work for families are the week on, week off schedule, and the 2-2-3 schedule. In a week on, week off schedule, the child spends one week with one parent, and then one week with the other parent. In a 2-2-3, one parent will have the children for two days, then the other parent will have the child for two days, and the parents alternate their possession every other weekend.

In reality, every family looks different. Several factors, such as distance between the parents' homes and job schedules will determine which possession schedule works best for you.

It is important to attempt to find workable possession schedules for each of our clients' specific needs. Here at Hoppes & Cutrer, LLC, we will help to foster the optimal possession schedule for our clients. 

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