Temporary Orders

At the time you file for divorce, you may request an audience with the judge to make temporary orders. Temporary orders usually address:

  • Temporary possession and access to the children
  • Temporary child support
  • Temporary use of residence and vehicles
  • Temporary spousal support
  • Payment of attorneys' fees
  • Continuation of medical and insurance coverage
  • Restraining a parent from relocating to a different geographic area with the children
  • Prohibiting parties from wasting or selling community assets

Temporary orders are helpful to maintain the status quo while you go through the divorce process. The judge may also extend the temporary restraining order. The violation of a temporary restraining order or a temporary order is punishable by contempt and is enforceable against the other party.

Possession And Access To The Child

In any conservatorship, the children will live the majority of the time with the conservator who is awarded the exclusive right to determine the child's residence.

The possessory parent will normally be awarded a possession and access or "visitation" schedule with the child. The public policy of Texas is to assure that children have frequent and continuing contact with both parents. Therefore, the Texas Family Code provides guidelines as to this visitation schedule. The recommended visitation is called the Standard Possession Order (commonly called an SPO) and it is applicable to children above the age of three (3). Texas Family Code 154.133

When a child is less than three (3) years old, the Family Code provides factors that the court shall consider in determining an appropriate possession order, which include the following:

  • The caregiving provided to the child before and during the current suit
  • The effect on the child that may result from separation from either party
  • The physical, medical, behavioral and developmental needs of the child
  • The physical, medical, emotional, economic and social conditions of the parties
  • The child's need for continuity of routine
  • Texas Family Code 153.254

It may be that a court, when considering these factors, determines that an SPO is the best schedule for the child even if he or she is under 3 years old.

The Standard Possession Order provides generally that if the possessory conservator resides 100 miles or fewer from the primary residence of the child, the possessory conservator shall have the right to possession of the child as follows:

  • Weekends
    • On weekends throughout the year beginning at 6 pm on the first, third and fifth Friday of each month and ending at 6 pm on the following Sunday
  • Weekdays
    • Every Thursday of each week during the regular school term beginning at 6 pm and ending at 8 pm
  • Holidays
    • Alternating for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Spring break
  • Summer
    • 30 days in the summer upon the dismissal of school, and could have an expanded summer possession depending on proper notice
  • For complete details on the SPO see Texas Family Code 153.321.

For a possessory conservator who resides more than 100 miles from the managing conservator, the visitation order may be slightly modified and additional provisions such as how to allocate costs for travel or traveling arrangements may be included.

Remember that alternative visitation schedules can be agreed upon or requested. If sought after in trial, the party would have to overcome the presumption that an SPO is in the best interest of the child and establish that the sought-after order is, in fact, in the best interest of the child. If an alternative schedule is agreed upon in mediation, then the court shall issue it as its order without questioning whether or not the visitation schedule as agreed and incorporated into the mediation agreement is in the best interest of the child. Se habla español.