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Visitation Schedule: Standard Possession Order vs. Custom Possession

Parents are encouraged to work out specific times for access and possession, even if those times and dates deviate from the designated periods in the order.  The goal is to encourage cooperation between the parents without the need to seek judicial intervention.  However, possession orders, such as the Standard Possession Order, are necessary to ensure that parents have access to their children absent agreements between the both parents.  In essence, the possession order can be viewed as the non-custodial parent’s insurance policy as to when he or she will have access and actual possession of their child.

Standard Possession Order (SPO)

Under the SPO, the non-custodial parent has access to their child during the following periods:

  1. On the 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekends of the month, with the weekend starting after school or at 6:00 PM on Friday until 6:00 PM on Sunday.
  2. On each Thursday from after school or at 6:00 PM until 8:00 PM.
  3. On odd number years for the Thanksgiving Holidays starting 6:00 PM and ending at 6:00 PM the day prior to school resuming.
  4. On even number years the first half of the Christmas Holidays starting at time school is dismissed for the holidays until Dec. 28th at noon.
  5. On odd number years the second half of the Christmas Holidays starting at noon on Dec. 28th until 6:00 PM on day prior to school resuming.
  6. On even number years of Spring Break Holidays beginning at 6:00 PM on the day school is dismissed until 6:00 PM on the day prior to school resuming.
  7. Extended summer period of 30 days if written notice before April 1st, if no notice, then the entire month of July.

At the non-custodial parents election he or she can elect what is referred to as the Extended Standard Possession, which essentially means that periods of possession start at the time that school is dismissed and begin at the time that school resumes. For example, on the first weekend of the month, the parent will have the child from the time school is dismissed on Friday until school resumes Monday morning. Under this scenario, the non-custodial parent will be responsible for picking up the child at school and return the child to school on Monday morning.  Note that if Monday is a holiday or a teacher’s work day then the non-custodial parent is entitled to remain in possession of the child until school resumes on Tuesday.  Additionally, the Thursday visit begins at the time school is dismissed on Thursday until Friday morning; thus, on the first, third, and fifth weekend, the non-custodial parent will have the child from the time school is dismissed on Thursday until school resumes Monday morning.

Custom Possession Order

The court may make orders expanding or contracting standard possession orders if such situations are in the best interest of the child.  Typical custom possession orders are: a week-on/week-off;  a wrap around 5-5-2-2, or any other creative schedule that is approved by the court.