Christmas Visitation Essentials for Texas Parents

As we approach the Holiday Season, many of you reading this blog may be about to experience Christmas or other holiday after a divorce. Whereas before you were used to and were able to experience sharing memories together with your children throughout the holidays, your life now is going to be different in that regard.

This does not mean that you or your children are never going to share memories around the Christmas tree or the dinner table again, however. It does mean that you need to be aware of the changes to both your life and your children’s. It also means being cognizant and respectful of the need for your ex spouse to be able to enjoy the holidays with your children as well.

If your divorce decree was created by a Texas court then you know that either you or your ex spouse was named the parent with the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of your children. This means the children live with that parent during the school week and likely attend the school that is zoned to that home.

In contrast, the parent who does not have the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the children has visitation rights throughout various times of the year. Typically that means the first, third and fifth weekends of each month with a Thursday night “dinner date” to break up each week. If you are the parent with visitation rights to your children you should also remember being able to have your children for one month during the summer- either four weeks consecutively or two two-week increments broken up during the summer holiday. With the semester having concluded at your children’s school Christmas break is here. Let’s discuss what this means for you and your family.

Christmas Vacation Visitation for you and your family

For starters, unless you and your spouse agreed otherwise in your Final Decree of Divorce, neither you nor your ex-spouse will be able to have your children both on Thanksgiving and Christmas. You will have Thanksgiving in odd years and Christmas in even years and your wife will have the opposite, or vice versa. I have seen parents who understand that because of work schedules or other considerations, one parent or the other cannot take advantage of an extended summer break and will therefore provide in the Final Decree of Divorce that the parent with the difficult schedule can have the children on both Thanksgiving and Christmas. This is extremely rare and it unlikely to be what your Final Decree orders you to do.

If you are the parent who is able to have the children on Christmas this year, then you are able to keep the children with you from 6:00 p.m. on the day school lets out until noon on December 28th. On the other hand, if this is your ex-spouse’s year to have the children on Christmas then you will be able to have the children with you from noon on December 28th until 6:00 on the Sunday prior to school resuming for the Spring semester. Next year, those roles flip and you would be able to have the children on Christmas.

The Texas Family Code does not have to be the Code for your family’s holidays

If the above guidelines for Christmas and holiday visitation seem tedious and suffering for lack of flexibility then I would agree with you. The fact is that the Texas Family Code lays out the above “rules” as set forth by our Legislature as being the most fair and balanced method of dividing up one of the most important and cherished times of the year. However, if you and your spouse were able to arrive at an alternative arrangement during settlement negotiations for your divorce then your divorce decree will reflect that settlement. Hopefully the arrangement you’ve worked out is more flexible and suits your family better than what the fall back provisions in the Family Code state.

Many families have traditions and events that do not necessarily coincide with the above dates. For instance, if your family celebrates Christmas every year on December 29th because of conflicts due to work or other obligations then a December 28th drop off/pick up date for an exchange of the children probably doesn’t work that well for you. It is ideal to have worked out these issues prior to your divorce being finalized so that you and your spouse (and your families) know what to expect around the Holidays.

However, you and your ex-spouse are still able to work out agreements on the fly even if your Final Decree states otherwise. If an agreement can be reached between the parents in advance of the holidays then it is absolutely the best move for your families to work with each other. If you believe an agreement has been reached to modify the upcoming holiday schedule as laid out in your Divorce Decree then I would advise you to get those changes in writing where both you and your ex spouse sign off on them. This “agreement” is not a binding contract necessarily but it does exhibit that both of you willingly entered into a compact that will govern holiday visits. If you utilize My Family Wizard you have the benefit of getting that agreement date and time stamped to further legitimize the agreement.

The Holidays are when family comes first

Even if you and your spouse parted ways on no so great terms, it is my sincere belief that if you adhere to your divorce decree and what it orders for visitation around the Holidays both of you can have fulfilling and happy experiences with your children. In the event that either of you needs the other to be a little more flexible with your time I would make sure any agreement is in writing and clear about drop off/pick up times, locations and other details. Remember- you both are doing this for your children’s benefit.

If you have any additional questions regarding Christmas/Holiday visitation with your children please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our office represents clients across southeast Texas and would be honored to do the same for you. After the holidays, if your visitation schedule does not end up working out for you one of our licensed family law attorneys can answer your questions about possibly modifying your divorce orders as well.

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Other Articles you may be interested in:

  1. The Holidays During Your Texas Divorce?
  2. How to help your children succeed in school after a divorce
  3. How a Parenting Class Can Help Me and My Ex-spouse Co-parent in Texas?
  4. How to Co Parent with an Addict Ex-Spouse
  5. Post-Divorce Anger Issues: Co-parenting advice in difficult circumstances
  6. Co parenting when you and your children live in different states
  7. How Does Summertime Visitation Work for Divorced Parents in Texas?
  8. How does summer visitation work?
  9. 10 Quick Tips About Parental Visitation
  10. When Your Child's Extended Family Wants Visitation in Texas
  11. Supervised Visitation in a Texas Divorce: Can it happen to me?
  12. In Texas are Child Support and Visitation Connected?

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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