Children and issues surrounding them are among the most difficult parts of a Texas divorce. Once the custody arrangement has been determined, the sides must then address when the noncustodial parent will have parenting time.
In Texas, this is referred to as “periods of possession” and the parents are known as “conservators.” Knowing how the distance between the parents’ residences and how holidays are factored in is essential to avoid disputes and to reach a fair outcome for everyone.
Know the facts about periods of possession and what is considered
After a couple ends their marriage, it is not uncommon for them to live a significant distance apart. This is assessed as part of the Standard Possession Order, which is the presumed template.
When parents live 100 miles or fewer away from each other, the noncustodial parent will see the child on alternating weekends every month. For holidays, these too will alternate. During the summer, the child will be with the noncustodial parent for a longer amount of time—30 days.
Parents who live at least 100 miles apart will have a different schedule. For weekends, it could be identical to what it would be if fewer than 100 miles separate the parents or it could be reduced to once a month. Parents will not have visitation during the week. Holidays will continue to alternate. For the summer, it is extended to 42 days and they will have the child during spring break.
Holidays are generally unaffected by the distance apart. Designated holidays will mean the child will be with the non-custodial parent regardless of whether it is a weekend in which they were supposed to have the child or not.
For even numbered years, the child will be with the noncustodial parent from when the child is dismissed from school for the Christmas vacation through noon on Dec. 28. In odd-numbered years, the custodial parent will have the child.
The same calendar is used for other holidays like Thanksgiving, birthdays and—depending on which parent has custody—Father’s Day and Mother’s Day. If the father has custody, the child will be with the mother from 6 p.m. on the Friday before Mother’s Day until 6 p.m. on Mother’s Day. Weekend possession can also be extended by a school holiday.
It is vital to know how parenting time schedules are set
As part of a divorce, people will have a litany of concerns that need to be addressed. Such a dramatic life change can be complicated, particularly when there are children involved. In some instances, the parents are on reasonably good terms and can deal with their children in an aboveboard manner to ensure there is a healthy relationship between them. In others, it is more difficult. This can be exacerbated by distance and disputes over holidays about who will have the child.
Knowing how the law oversees these concerns is a crucial aspect. So too it is imperative to understand what options are available and to make sure that the parents are treated fairly and the child is protected, regardless of the perspective as a custodial or noncustodial parent. In family law cases with people who have school-age children, it is wise to be prepared to try and achieve as good an outcome as possible.