Standard Possession and Expanded Standard Possession – The Difference

Parents of children will often request the standard possession schedule for visitation with their children when putting orders in place concerning them. The typical understanding of standard possession that parents have is from Friday at 6:00 p.m. to Sunday at 6:00 p.m. on the first, third, and fifth weekends of the month in addition to 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Thursday. However, there is an alternate visitation schedule that follows the standard schedule but gives more time to the visiting parent.

Most parents I have consulted with over the years are not aware of the expanded possession schedule. The schedule essentially provides for earlier pickups and later drop-offs of the children to allow for extra time for the visiting parent. It is usually at the election of the visiting parent to elect this schedule, but it also has to be in the best interests of the children for the court to order it.

Under the expanded standard possession schedule, visitation on Friday begins at the time school is dismissed, not 6:00 p.m. Also, weekend visitation ends at the time school resumes on Monday after the weekend, not Sunday at 6:00 p.m. This can allow for not only more time with the children, but ease to the transfer of possession between parents whereby the parents are picking up and returning the children to school rather than to each other’s residences.

Another variation of the expanded standard possession schedule is the Thursday overnight. So, instead of having Thursday from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., a parent’s visitation would be from Thursday after school is dismissed until Friday when school resumes. This essentially gives a parent an extra day with the children on their designated weekends when they would pick up on Thursday after school, drop off Friday when school begins, and then pick up when school is dismissed on that Friday for their weekend.

Not all parents can exercise the expanded standard visitation schedule, so it is important to review the nuances of it with your attorney before agreeing to it or asking for it to be granted by the court. Typically, if a parent has been involved with the children and will be living within a close distance of the children and the parent with primary conservatorship, the court will likely grant the expanded schedule upon election so long as it can be shown that it is in the best interests of the children.

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