When parents split up, whether they were married or not, it becomes important to decide how much time the children spend with mom and how much time they spend with dad. Other issues that need to be decided is where the kids go for breaks and holidays, who will pick the kids up after school and many other decisions. A parenting plan is where these decisions are memorialized and is included in a Final Decree of Divorce or a Final Order of Parentage. The Texas Family Code contains a section that sets out what a "standard possession order" looks like. A standard possession order is where one parent has the children on the first, third and fifth weekend of every month. It also sets out provisions for holidays, summer vacations and spring breaks.
Many parent deviate from this standard possession order by agreement and devise a parenting plan that works for them. More and more parents are deciding that the parents should have equal time with the children. Some judges in Tarrant County will order that as well, in cases where 50/50 access is appropriate.
It is important to know that parents can deviate from the patenting plan by agreement. The parenting plan is a baseline and something that establishes a court order that the parties need to follow when parents do not agree or get along.