Archives: Glossary



  • Service of Process (served with notice)

    Service is the formal delivery of the petition or motion detailing the lawsuit and notice of an upcoming legal proceeding. The notice gives the time and date for a court hearing. When one party files a motion with the court, all the other parties will get served notice of it. A process server will come to your home or work and hand it to you. If you have been served, you must show up at court to protect your right to be heard; if you don’t come to court, a default judgment may be taken against you. If the judge has ordered you to appear in court and you don’t, the sheriff may pick you up and bring you before the judge.

  • Sole Managing Conservatorship

    A court order granting sole managing conservatorship means one parent has been awarded exclusive rights and duties (decision-making power) toward the child than the other parent. There are certain decisions that only the parent with sole managing conservatorship has the right to make.

  • Standard Possession Order

    Most custody orders include a Standard Possession Order (SPO) (Texas Family Code Title 5, Subchapter F [153.3101 – 153.317])that sets the schedule for each parent’s time with the child.  Custody orders refer to parenting time as access and possession, which is the same as visitation.  The SPO tells the parents where the exchanges of the child will take place, where the child will spend the holidays,  and has special rules for when the parents live more than 100 miles apart. The child will spend the first, third, and fifth weekend of each month plus one weekday evening, unless holiday schedules override, and at least one month in the summer with the NCP. Weekends start on Fridays.

    The court does not have to follow the SPO if a child is under three years old or if the SPO is not in the best interest of the child.

    How do I know if I have an SPO?

    Look at your order underneath the heading “Possession and Access Order.” If the noncustodial parent is given the 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekends (beginning on Friday and ending on Sunday), a weeknight visit once a week during the school term, a period of extended summer visitation, and shared holidays, then you probably have an SPO.

  • Step Up or Graduated

    A “step-up plan” or “graduated” is a type of possession and access schedule or parenting time schedule that requires the noncustodial parent’s time with the child to start off being more limited than it would be under a Standard Possession Orderand step up to add more time. This also may be called a graduated or stair-step plan. The noncustodial parent gradually increases time with the child before moving to the SPO schedule.

  • Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship

    Often abbreviated as SAPCR (sap-sir). A SAPCR is a lawsuit brought under Title 5 of the Texas Family Code. A SAPCR results in a court order that states which parent will determine where the child will live; both parents’ rights and responsibilities; and the time the child will spend with each parent. The SAPCR also sets child support and medical support. It does not divide property or debt, or dissolve a marriage.

  • Supervised Visitation

    In supervised visitation, the noncustodial parent can only see the child when supervised by another adult. Supervised visitation gives parents in high conflict situations access to their children in a safe and controlled environment. Supervised visitation is used to protect children from potentially dangerous situations while allowing parents access to maintain the parent child relationship. The court can order supervision by an adult agreed upon by both parents and that the child knows OR by a business specializing in services to high conflict parents, sometimes called a supervised visitation facility. It also may be used when a child has not seen a parent in a long time. There is a fee for one or both parents to use a supervised visitation facility.

    Check local supervised visitation centers for eligibility, costs and intake requirements: