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Faq & More >> Articles >> Articles about Suits Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship >> Visitation for Children Three and Younger
Visitation for Children Three and Younger
February 20, 2015

Paper cut out of a family standing on yellow block letters that spell child custodyIn Texas, when parents are divorced, one parent is usually given the exclusive right to decide where their child will live and the other parent will be given the right to have possession (a.k.a. visitation) of their child according to a set schedule. In most cases, this set schedule is known as a Standard Possession Order (SPO). For more information on how an SPO works, check out our Frequently Asked Questions section.

While family courts use SPOs in the majority of cases, an SPO is not always the best fit for a family's circumstances. This is especially true when a child is younger than three year of age. The visitation schedule in an SPO would be too much for a child younger than three years of age. The Texas legislature has recognized this fact, and that's why Section 153.254 of the Texas Family Code exists. Section 153.254 allows family courts to deviate from the SPO and come up with a custom visitation schedule when children under three years of age are involved.

Courts will focus on several factors in figuring out what is the best visitation schedule when a child under three years of age is involved. In addition to any evidence that has to do with the best interests of the child, courts will consider:

  • (1) the type of caregiving the child has and has had;
  • (2) how the child would handle being separated from either parent;
  • (3) the availability of the parents as caregivers for the child;
  • (4) the physical, medical, behavioral and development needs of the child;
  • (5) the physical, medical, emotional, economic and social condition of the parents;
  • (6) the impact of siblings and other friends and family during visits;
  • (7) the child's need to maintain a routine;
  • (8) the child's need to bond with both parents; and
  • (9) the ability of the parents to work together.

As you can see, it's a very thorough and broad list of factors courts will consider in drafting a visitation schedule for a child under three years of age. Courts will also want to put into place a schedule that steps up visitation as the child gets closer and closer to three years of age.

So what would a visitation schedule actually look like for a child under three? A typical schedule might work as follows:

  • (1) the non-custodial parent has possession of the child every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 6PM - 7PM until the child is at least 4 months old and the custodial parent supervises the visits;
  • (2) the non-custodial parent has possession of the child every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday from 6PM - 8PM starting when the child is 4 months old and until the child is 6 months old;
  • (3) the non-custodial parent has possession of the child every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday from 5PM-8PM starting when the child is 6 months old and until the child is 9 months old;
  • (4) the non-custodial parent has possession of the child every Wednesday from 5PM-8PM and every Saturday from 12PM-6PM starting when the child is 9 months old and until the child is 12 months old;
  • (5) the non-custodial parent has possession of the child every Wednesday from 5PM-8PM and every Saturday from 6PM to 12PM the following Sunday starting when the child is 12 months old and until the child is 18 months old;
  • (6) the non-custodial parent has possession of the child every Wednesday from 5PM-8PM and every Saturday from 12PM to 12PM the following Sunday starting when the child is 18 months old and until the child is 24 months old;
  • (7) the non-custodial parent has possession of the child every Wednesday from 5PM-8PM and every first, third and fifth Friday of the month from 6PM to 12PM the following Sunday starting when the child is 24 months old and until the child is 30 months old;
  • (8) the non-custodial parent has possession of the child every Wednesday from 5PM-8PM and every first, third and fifth Friday of the month from 6PM to 6PM the following Sunday starting when the child is 30 months old and until the child is 36 months old; and
  • (9) the non-custodial parent has possession of the child under the terms of an SPO.

As you can see, this order "steps up" the amount of possession time the non-custodial parent has as the child grows older.

If you have a child under three and need to establish or modify custody, contact Sugar Land child custody attorney Chikeersha Puvvada at 832-317-6705 or online today to schedule a free 30 minute consultation.

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