Texas Divorce and Firefighter Child Custody Possession Order?

Our office has had the privilege of representing several firefighters through family law matters include divorce and child custody cases.

Certain professions such being a firefighter have unique custody situations. The readers of our blog will know that in Texas there is a presumption that the Standard Possession Schedule is in the “best interest of the child.”

However, for many firefighters that schedule is not compatible for someone who has a firefighter’s work schedule. In today’s blog, we will tackle what rights firefighters have in regard to child custody and visitation during a Texas Divorce.

Firefighter Possession Schedules

If Parents Can Agree

The easiest solution is if parents can agree then just about any customized schedule can be worked out to accommodate the firefighter.

Texas Family Code §153.255 states that “the court may render an order for period of possession of a child that vary from the standard possession order based on the agreement of the parties.”

If the case is settled without mediation a judge may still overrule a parent’s schedule. One way to ensure that this does not happen is to settle the case in mediation.

I have listed two suggested firefighter schedules from the Advanced Family Law Conference further down.

If Parent’s Can Not Agree

However, if parents are unable to agree then the case will need to go to court and a Judge will dictate the terms of possession. As mentioned earlier it will be necessary to establish that a Standard Possession Order is not in the best interest of the child. This is something courts are reluctant to do.

However, there are avenues in the family law for making just such an argument. Under the family code:

  1. Texas Family Code §153.002 provides: “The best interest of the child shall always be the primary consideration of the court in determining the issues of conservatorship and possession of and access to the child.”
  2. Texas Family Code §153.001 provides: “(a) The public policy of this state is to: (1) assure that children will have frequent and continuing contact with parents who have shown the ability to act in the best interest of the child;”
  1. The Texas Family Code §153.251(b) elaborates on the policy of Texas to “encourage frequent contact between a child and each parent for periods of possession that optimize the development of a close and continuing relationship between each parent and child.”
  1. Texas Family Code §153.253 provides: “The court shall render an order that grants periods of possession of the child as similar as possible to those provided by the standard possession order if the work schedule or other special circumstances of the managing conservator, the possessory conservator, or the child, or the year-round school schedule of the child, make the standard order unworkable or inappropriate.”

Firefighter Schedule #1

(b) Findings and Notification Requirements

The Court finds that FATHER is currently employed as a firefighter with the ________________ Fire Department and works 24-hour shifts, beginning and ending at 7:00 a.m., with 48 hours off in between shifts. The Court further finds that due to his work schedule, FATHER is currently unable to exercise predictable periods of possession occurring on the same days of each month. The Court finds that an annual calendar of FATHER’s scheduled work days is published by the ______________ Firefighters Union Local _____ in advance of each calendar year. IT IS ORDERED that within ten days of FATHER’s receipt of the printed work schedule for the following calendar year, FATHER shall provide a true and correct copy of such schedule to MOTHER by hand-delivery, facsimile, or first-class mail.

(c) Mutual Agreement or Specified Terms for Possession

IT IS ORDERED that the conservators shall have possession of the child at times mutually agreed to in advance by the parties, and, in the absence of mutual agreement, it is ORDERED that the conservators shall have possession of the child under the specified terms set out in this Possession Order.

(d) Weekend and Weekday Periods of Possession During the Regular School Term

Except as otherwise explicitly provided in this Possession Order, FATHER shall have the right to weekend and weekday possession of the child during the regular school term as follows:

  1. Weekends
  1. When FATHER’s regular work shift ends on a Friday, then FATHER shall have the right to possession of the child beginning at the time the child’s school is regularly dismissed on the Friday on which his shift ends and ending at 8:00 P.M. on the following Saturday.

b. When FATHER’s regular work shift ends on a Saturday, then FATHER shall have the right to possession of the child beginning at 9:00 a.m. on the Saturday on which his shift ends and ending at 8:00 P.M. on the following Sunday

  1. Weekdays When FATHER’s regular work shift ends on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, then FATHER shall have the right to possession of the child beginning at the time the child’s school is regularly dismissed on the day on which his shift ends and ending at the time the child’s school resumes the following day

(e) Weekend and Weekday Periods of Possession During the Summer Except as otherwise explicitly provided in this Possession Order, FATHER shall have the right to weekend and weekday possession of the child during the summer as follows:

  1. Weekends

When FATHER’s regular work shift ends on a Saturday, then FATHER shall have the right to possession of the child beginning at 9:00 a.m. on the Saturday on which his shift ends and ending at 8:00 P.M. on the following Sunday.

  1. Weekdays

When FATHER’s regular work shift ends on a Monday, then FATHER shall have the right to possession of the child beginning at 9:00 a.m. on the Monday on which his shift ends and ending at 8:00 P.M. on the following Tuesday.

Firefighter Schedule #2

(c) Possession Provisions Based on FATHER’s Employment

The Court finds that the parties agree and IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that so long as FATHER is employed by a fire department and does not work a standard work week consisting of Monday through Friday standard hours, FATHER shall have the right to possession of and access to the child on weekends beginning on the first, third and fifth Friday of each month. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that FATHER’s weekend possession is specifically defined as follows:

  1. If FATHER does not work on Saturday or Sunday of a first, third or fifth weekend, he shall have possession of the child beginning at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday and ending at6:00 p.m. on the immediately following Sunday.
  1. If FATHER works on Saturday of a first, third or fifth weekend, he shall have possession of the child beginning at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday of said weekend and ending at the time school dismisses on the immediately following Monday.
  1. If FATHER works on Sunday of a first, third or fifth weekend, he shall have possession of the child beginning at the time school regularly resumes on Friday of said weekend and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the immediately following Saturday.
  1. Additionally, FATHER shall have possession of the child for one overnight period each week during the regular school term as mutually agreed by the parties during which FATHER is not working beginning at the time the child’s school is dismissed, or at 6:00 p.m. on the mutually agreed upon day and ending at the time the child’s school regularly resumes, or at 9:00 a.m. if the child’s school not in session, on the immediately following day.
  1. In the event MOTHER and FATHER do not reach mutual agreement for the midweek overnight possession of FATHER in a calendar month, then MOTHER shall designate two (2) mid-week overnight periods of possession during which FATHER shall have possession of the child for that month and FATHER shall also designate two (2) mid-week overnight periods of possession during which he shall have possession of the child during that month.
  1. Spring Break in Even-Numbered Years - In even-numbered years, beginning at 6:00 p.m. on the day the child is dismissed from school for the school's spring vacation and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the day before school resumes after that vacation.
  1. Extended Summer Possession by FATHER –

With Written Notice by April 1 - If FATHER gives MOTHER written notice by April 1 of a year specifying an extended period or periods of summer possession for that year, FATHER shall have possession of the child for 14 consecutive days in June and 14 consecutive days in July beginning no earlier than the day after the child's school is dismissed for the summer vacation and ending no later than seven days before school resumes at the end of the summer vacation in that year. These periods of possession shall begin and end at 6:00 p.m.

Without Written Notice by April 1 - If FATHER does not give MOTHER written notice by April 1 of a year specifying an extended period or periods of summer possession for that year, FATHER shall have possession of the child for14 days in June and 14 days in July that year beginning at 6:00 p.m. on June 1 and ending at 6:00 p.m. on June 14 and beginning at 6:00 p.m. on July 1 and ending at 6:00 p.m. on July 14.

Without Written Notice by April 1 - If FATHER does not give MOTHER written notice

by April 1 of a year specifying an extended period or periods of summer possession for that year, FATHER shall have possession of the child for14 days in June and 14 days in July that year beginning at 6:00 p.m. on June 1 and ending at 6:00 p.m. on June 14 and beginning at 6:00 p.m. on July 1 and ending at 6:00 p.m. on July 14.

Notwithstanding the weekend and mid-week periods of possession ORDERED for FATHER, it is explicitly ORDERED that MOTHER shall have a right of possession of the child as follows:

  1. Spring Break in Odd-Numbered Years - In odd-numbered years, beginning at 6:00 p.m. on the day the child is dismissed from school for the school's spring vacation and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the day before school resumes after that vacation.
  1. Summer Weekend Possession by MOTHER - If MOTHER gives FATHER written notice by April 15 of a year, MOTHER shall have possession of the child on any one weekend beginning at 6:00 p.m. on Friday and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the following Sunday during any one period of the extended summer possession by FATHER in that year, provided that MOTHER picks up the child from FATHER and returns the child to that same place and that the weekend so designated does not interfere with Father's Day Weekend.
  1. Extended Summer Possession by MOTHER - If MOTHER gives FATHER written notice by April 15 of a year or gives FATHER fourteen days' written notice on or after April 16 of a year, MOTHER may designate one weekend beginning no earlier than the day after the child's school is dismissed for the summer vacation and ending no later than seven days before school resumes at the end of the summer vacation, during which an otherwise scheduled weekend period of possession by FATHER shall not take place in that year, provided that the weekend so designated does not interfere with FATHER period or periods of extended summer possession or with Father's Day Weekend.

(d) Parents Who Reside 100 Miles or Less Apart and FATHER No Longer is Firefighter

Except as otherwise explicitly provided in this Possession Order, when FATHER resides 100 miles or less from the primary residence of the child and works standard daytime, Monday through Friday, shifts or is no longer employed by a fire department, FATHER shall have the right to possession of the child as follows:

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Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Spring Divorce Lawyer

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with ar Spring, TX Divorce Lawyer right away to protect your rights.

A divorce lawyer in Spring TX is skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan handles Divorce cases in Spring, Texas, Cypress, Spring, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.

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