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What is a non-custodial parent?

A non-custodial parent is a parent who does not have the exclusive right to determine where the child resides. A parent can be a joint managing conservator of the child and still be a non-custodial parent. This is the usual custody arrangement. The person who has that right is called the custodial parent or the primary parent.

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What are a non-custodial parent’s visitation rights?

A non-custodial parent’s visitation rights are determined by how far away they live from the child. The Texas family code provides that for parents who reside 100 miles or less from the child, during the school year on Thursdays from 6pm-8pm. In addition, on the first, third, and fifth weekends beginning at 6pm Friday and ending at 6pm on Sunday. The parents shall alternate spring break, Thanksgiving, and Christmas holidays. The non-custodial parent is entitled to have possession of the child for 30 days in the summer.
For non-custodial parents who reside more than 100 miles from the child, there is no Thursday visit. The parent can choose to have visitation on the 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekends, or the parent can elect to have only one weekend per month. It is the non-custodial parent’s choice. In addition, the parent shall have possession of the child every spring break and for 42 days in the summer. 
If the non-custodial parent elects at the time the order is signed, he or she may have what is called an expanded standard possession order. It is the same as the regular standard possession order (SPO), however, the Thursday night visitation begins at the time school is regularly dismissed and is extended until the time school starts on Friday morning; and the weekend visitation begins at the time school is regularly dismissed on Friday and is extended until school starts on Monday morning.
These are default periods of possession and represent the minimum amount of time a non-custodial parent should have. There is nothing in the family code that prevents non-custodial parents from having longer periods of possession than an SPO.

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