If you are a parent in Texas and you need help with child custody, you should understand the difference between the terms possession and access. The state uses these legal designations to describe aspects of how parents can share time with their children.
Review this guide for the basics of possession vs. access related to Texas custody.
Defining possession and access
Generally, Texas law uses the term possession as a synonym for physical custody. For example, if you share custody with your spouse, your custody order may specify joint possession. The state refers to this custody order as a “possession order.”
The term access, on the other hand, describes each parent’s right to visitation or shared custody. When you have possession of your child, you must allow the other parent access according to your established legal agreement. When the other parent has possession, you can obtain access when the time comes for your scheduled possession.
Establishing a possession order
Texas has established these types of possession orders:
- Standard possession order, which provides primary possession to one parent and regular access to the other
- Standard possession order for children younger than 3
- Supervised possession order
You can also create a modified possession order if none of these options fit your family’s needs. For example, you might want an arrangement such as alternating weeks. In this case, you and the child’s other parent must negotiate to agree on the terms of a modified possession order.
Understanding the terms possession and access can inform your next steps for child custody in Texas.