Texas Divorce and Firefighter Child Custody Possession Order

Certain professions, such as firefighters, have unique custody situations. In Texas, there is a presumption that the Standard Possession Schedule is in the “best interest of the child.” However, because of the nature of the work, a firefighter custody schedule isn’t always ideal.

In today’s blog, we will tackle what rights firefighters have regarding child custody and visitation during a Texas Divorce. Our office has had the privilege of representing several firefighters through family law matters including divorce and child custody cases.

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 a period of possession of a child that varies 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 Parents Can Not Agree

However, if parents are unable to agree, then the case will need to go to court. A Judge will then dictate the terms of possession. 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;”
  3. 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.”
  4. 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

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. It 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, and that an annual calendar of FATHER’s scheduled workdays 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.

Mutual Agreement or Specified Terms for Possession

The Court orders that the conservators must mutually agree in advance on the times for possession of the child. If they cannot agree, the conservators must follow the possession terms specified in this Possession Order.

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
  2. After FATHER’s regular work shift ends on a Friday, he has the right to the child’s possession from the child’s school dismissal time until 8:00 P.M. the next 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 Saturday on which his shift ends and ending at 8:00 P.M. on the following Sunday

  1. On weekdays when FATHER’s regular shift ends on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, he has the right to the child’s possession from the child’s school dismissal time until school resumes the next 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 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 Monday on which his shift ends and ending at 8:00 P.M. on the following Tuesday.

Firefighter Schedule #2

The Court confirms the parties’ agreement. It orders that as long as FATHER works for a fire department with non-standard hours, he has the right to possess and access the child on the first, third, and fifth Fridays of each month. The Court further defines FATHER’s weekend possession as follows:

Possession Provisions Based on FATHER’s Employment

  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 at 6:00 p.m. on the immediately following Sunday.
  2. 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 the said weekend and ending at the time school dismisses on the immediately following Monday.
  3. 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 the said weekend and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the immediately following Saturday.
  4. FATHER will have overnight custody of the child for one night each week during the school term. This night will be when FATHER is not working and will be mutually agreed upon. It starts when the child’s school ends, or at 6:00 p.m., and ends when school resumes, or at 9:00 a.m. if there is no school the next day.

Other Possession Provisions

  1. In the event MOTHER and FATHER do not reach a 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.
  2. During even-numbered years, FATHER will have the child for Spring Break. This period starts at 6:00 p.m. when the child’s spring vacation begins and ends at 6:00 p.m. the day before school resumes.
  3. Extended Summer Possession by FATHER 

Possession Provisions In Extended Summer Possession by father

With Written Notice by April 1 

If FATHER notifies MOTHER in writing by April 1, he can have the child for two 14-day periods in the summer. One in June and one in July, starting the day after the child’s school ends for summer and ending at least seven days before school restarts. 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.

Possession Provisions During Break and Weekend

Notwithstanding the ordered weekend and mid-week possession times for FATHER, the Court orders that MOTHER has the right to possess the child as follows:

  1. Spring Break in Odd-Numbered Years – MOTHER will have the child for Spring Break. This starts at 6:00 p.m. when the child’s spring vacation begins and ends at 6:00 p.m. the day before school resumes.
  2. 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 anyone 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.
  3. Extended Summer Possession by MOTHER – If MOTHER notifies FATHER in writing by April 15 or with fourteen days’ notice after April 16 in a year, she can choose one weekend. This weekend must start after the child’s school summer break begins and end at least seven days before school resumes. During this weekend, FATHER’s scheduled weekend possession will not occur, as long as it doesn’t conflict with FATHER’s extended summer possession or Father’s Day Weekend.

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

When FATHER lives 100 miles or less from the child’s primary residence and works standard daytime shifts Monday through Friday, or is no longer employed by a fire department, he has the right to possess the child as outlined in this Possession Order, unless stated otherwise.

Ebook

undefined If you want to know more about what you can do, CLICK the button below to get your FREE E-book: “Child Custody E-Book”

undefined If you want to know more about what you can do, CLICK the button below to get your FREE E-book: “Father’s Rights E-Book”

Other Articles you may be interested in:

  1. 12 Texas Custody & Conservatorship Battle Tips
  2. Child Custody Basics in Texas
  3. Do I Have to Pay Child Support if I Have Joint Custody of My Child in Texas?
  4. Child Custody Basics in Texas
  5. Are Dads at a Disadvantage when trying to win 50/50 custody in a Texas Divorce?
  6. Sole Managing Conservator in a Child Custody Case in Texas?
  7. Help!! My Ex-Spouse Kidnapped my Child
  8. How Much Will My Texas Child Custody Case Cost?
  9. When Can a Minor Child Weigh in on Custody Decisions in Texas?
  10. Child Custody Geographic Restrictions in Texas
  11. Firefighter visitation schedules for those who work 24-hour shifts

 

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