The Ins and Outs of Child Visitation in Texas

One of the most frequently disagreed on subjects by parents in divorce and child custody cases is who should be able to have the children with them and on what days of the week those visits should occur. This goes for normal, school day visits as well as holidays and other “special” times of the year. No matter how agreeable you and your child’s other parent are on most subjects it is not always possible to come up with your own, makeshift visitation schedule. There are many subjects that must be sorted out in a child custody or divorce case and visitation is one of them.

Fortunately for Texas families, our State Legislature has created a guideline visitation schedule for weekends, holidays and Summer Vacation. Like any law, these guidelines are to be applied equally to all people but may not have the same impact (positively or negatively) on everyone in the same way. Every family has questions or concerns about what a particular phrase in their orders means or what to do if [insert factual occurrence here] happens. The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan would like to share with you our thoughts and advice on this subject for parents.

Where will the child’s primary residence be?

The beginning to any visitation schedule or outline begins with where the child will reside primarily. Your final orders from your divorce or child custody case will state either that your child lives primarily with you or their other parent. Whichever parent your child resides with primarily is known as the managing conservator or custodial parent. It would stand to reason then that the other parent is known as the non-custodial parent or possessory conservator. Making this determination is essential because the custodial parent and the non custodial parents have different opportunities provided to them under the law to be able to have time to spend with their child.

Weekend Visitation

For the most part, children are able to spend the first, third and fifth weekends of every month with their non custodial parent. The visitation period begins at 6:00 p.m. on Friday and lasts until 6:00 p.m. on Sunday. Depending on your particular situation you are able to change those times as needed but as far as what the Texas Family Code provides for 6:00 p.m. is the pick-up and drop-off time for weekend visitation.

What about Holidays?

Holidays are alternated between parents on a yearly basis. This means that if you got Christmas Day as a period of visitation in 2016, your ex spouse will have the opportunity to have the child this year on Christmas Day. Christmas is split up into two parts. The first part begins at 6:00 p.m. on the day school lets out for the Christmas break and ends at 6:00 p.m. on December 28th. Part two of Christmas break runs from 6:00 p.m. on December 28th until 6:00 p.m. on the Sunday prior to school resuming its normal schedule. It is worthwhile to keep a copy of your most recent court orders handy so that you can reference any time and date requirements as needed.

Thanksgiving break, though longer than a weekend, is not split up into two holidays. You and your child’s other parent will alternate Thanksgiving holidays. No parent will be able to have visitation with the child on both Christmas and Thanksgiving in any given year.

Finally, your child will be able to spend time with you on either Father’s or Mother’s Day as well, regardless of what the number of the weekend it is on a monthly basis.

Holidays are some of the most stressful times for parents who are no longer married to their child’s other parent. This means even in the best of situation it is not uncommon for our attorneys to receive phone calls from clients who are upset because their ex-spouse did not return the kids home on time as agreed to in their Divorce Decree. A piece of advice would be to understand that the holidays bring about stresses and turmoil when it comes to trying to have as much time as possible with your. If you can be considerate of your child and your child’s other parent you should be able to escape the holiday season with some memories and no angry phone calls from your ex spouse.

Summer Vacation- Setting a schedule for your children’s time away from school

Summer vacation is one of the all time mot relaxing and care-free time periods in your child’s life. It is an opportunity to play, visit new places and maybe even attend a summer camp or other activity. A unique part of the summer for children whose parents are not living together is that the non custodial parent is able to exercise his or her own extended time period of visitation with their child.

The way it works is that as the non custodial parent, you would need to contact the custodial parent by April 1st to notify him or her of your intent to have your child spend the extended summer visitation with you. Thirty days is the length of time most non custodial parents are awarded in a visitation order and the default time period for visitation is July 1- July 31 if no notice or insufficient notice is provided to the custodial parent. I always advice clients to provide notice by certified mail or via email, where you are able to get a “read receipt” that will show exactly when your ex-spouse reviewed the email.

Additional questions on visitation schedules in Texas? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

What you just read was an extremely abbreviated overview of visitation laws in Texas and how most families in our state encounter them. If you have additional questions on this subject or any other in the field of family law please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan today. Our licensed family law attorneys are available six days a week to meet with you to discuss your situation and answer any questions you have.

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