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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 another holiday after a divorce. Whereas before you were used to and were able to experience sharing memories with your children throughout the holidays, your life now will be different in that regard.

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

If a Texas court created your divorce decree, 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 zoned to that home.

In contrast, the parent who does not have the exclusive right to designate the children's primary residence 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" break up each week. Suppose you are the parent with visitation rights to your children. In that case, 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. Christmas break is here, with the semester having concluded at your children's school. 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 demanding schedule can have the children on both Thanksgiving and Christmas. This is extremely rare and is unlikely to be what your Final Decree orders you to do.

If you are the parent who can have the children on Christmas this year, then you can 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 Sunday before school resumes 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 suffer from a lack of flexibility, I 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 fairest and balanced method of dividing up one of the most important and cherished times of the year. However, if you and your spouse could arrive at an alternative arrangement during settlement negotiations for your divorce, then your divorce decree will reflect that settlement. Hopefully, the appointment you've worked out is more flexible and suits your family better than the fallback provisions in the Family Code state.

Many families have traditions and events that do not 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 exchanging the children probably doesn't work that well for you. It is ideal to have worked out these issues before your divorce is finalized so that you and your spouse (and your families) know what to expect around the Holidays.

However, you and your ex-spouse can still 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, 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, 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 legitimize the agreement further.

The Holidays are when family comes first.

Even if you and your spouse parted ways on not-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. If either of you needs the other to be a little more flexible with your time, I will 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, PLLC. 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.


Adobe Stock 62844981[2]If you want to know more about what you can do, CLICK the button below to get your FREE E-book: "16 Steps to Help You Plan & Prepare for Your Texas Divorce"

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 Can a Parenting Class Help My Ex-spouse Co-parent and Me 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, PLLC | Spring Divorce Lawyer

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's essential 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 the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, 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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