Decatur Family Law and Probate Attorney

The distance the parents live apart will impact parenting time

On Behalf of | Apr 25, 2024 | Divorce

In Texas, parenting time is referred to as possession and it is a fundamental part of a family law case. Even in cases where the parents are on the same page and are working together to raise the child, there can be conflict. In some instances, that is related to when each parent will have the child. That can be impacted by the distance they live apart.

The possession order will reflect the distance between the parents based on whether they are less than 50 miles apart; 51 to 100 miles apart; and more than 100 miles apart. Knowing how this will be organized can be beneficial in avoiding disputes. It might also help the parents with flexibility and agreeing to deviate from the template if necessary.

Navigating possession with the distance the parents live apart

If the parents live relatively close to each other with 50 miles or less separating them, the non-custodial parent will generally have the child every other weekend each month starting Friday after school. They can also agree to exchange the child later in the evening. The child will be returned to the custodial parent after the weekend. A holiday weekend means the time can be extended.

This expands to time off from school such as spring break and Christmas break. For example, the non-custodial parent might have the child from the last day of school through the Christmas holiday and return the child on Dec. 28. This is based on even and odd-numbered years and the parents will alternate. Special occasions like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day generally mean the child will stay with that parent. There can be an extended time for summer vacations.

If there is a greater distance between the parents, then the possession order will change accordingly. The non-custodial parent might have the child only one weekend per month if the parties live more than 100 miles apart. The key is ensuring the child has a strong relationship with both parents and the parenting time order is not detrimental to the child’s development.

Child custody and possession should focus on the child

The objective with child custody and a possession order is to serve the child’s best interests. The child having everything they need with living arrangements, education, health care, a safe environment, healthy nutrition and extracurricular activities are part of that. So too is it imperative that the child have a relationship with both parents. There is a default schedule for possession and the distance plays a role in it. Parents should be aware of these rules and prepare to try and reach a result they feel suits them and the child.