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Spring Is Here! Do You Have Questions About Holiday Possession After Your Texas Divorce?

For numerous individuals, Christmas and other winter holidays evoke less favorable memories compared to others. Regrettably, the holiday season can be particularly challenging for families facing marital difficulties or divorce. Even with legal representation during the divorce process, navigating visitation and possession arrangements in this transitional period can be perplexing. Consequently, comprehending the holiday schedule outlined in the Texas Standard Possession Order becomes essential for establishing a new routine post-divorce.

Today鈥檚 blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan will seek to answer many of those questions that you may have. With Easter right around the corner and the summer holiday season not too far after that, I wanted to share with you all some information that should hopefully put you in a clearer state of mind as we ease ourselves into the middle of the calendar year.

Holiday visitation schedules can be confusing but need to be learned

There is no doubt that you will need to take some time to adjust to your new life after divorce. Not only are you not able to spend as much time with your child as you once were, but you are also now figuring out how to live again as a single person. If you got married in your early 20s, you may have little to no experience living on your own.聽While this will be a transitionary period for you there is no need to have it impact your life in an overly negative way.

Navigating the Next Steps Towards a Fresh Start

After your divorce has finalized, the first step is to take a deep breath and assess your situation. Determine if there are bills that need to be paid off or brought up to date. If there are, prioritize addressing them as quickly as possible. Whether you鈥檙e seeking to lease an apartment, buy a home, or purchase a car, having unpaid bills from months past can impede these endeavors. While falling behind on bills post-divorce is common, it鈥檚 important to remember that your credit report doesn鈥檛 differentiate. Avoid unnecessary consequences with proper planning.

Next, you need to learn what your Final Decree of Divorce has to say about subjects like child support, visitation, possession and the division of community property. Today鈥檚 blog post is about visitation with your child, but it is nonetheless important that you know what your responsibilities are as far as making sure that your spouse is provided with any personal property you may have of theirs. Is there a specific date and time that you have to exchange items like jewelry, paper files or personal items? Do not lose track of your responsibilities so early in your post-divorce life.

Now, let鈥檚 discuss how to manage a complex visitation schedule outlined in your final divorce decree. Each individual鈥檚 visitation order varies. Some resemble a Standard Possession Order (SPO), permitting visitation on the first, third, and fifth weekends of each month from 6 pm Friday to 6 pm Sunday.

Visitation Plans: Holidays and Easter After Divorce

This plan allows for slight variations in providing more or less time, but generally outlines visitation during the school year. Holidays may complicate the plan slightly, but there鈥檚 no need for excessive concern. The important thing is that you take the time to learn your plan. Keep a copy of your divorce decree in a desk drawer in your home where you can refer to it if you have any questions.

Easter is the holiday that we have coming up next. Easter always falls on a Sunday. In this way, it is one of the easier holidays to plan for since it falls on a weekend. However, your divorce decree likely only specifies holiday visitation for Christmas, Thanksgiving, Mother鈥檚 Day, Father鈥檚 Day and the summer holiday. You and your ex-spouse may have inserted language into your orders to reflect your agreement on a visitation schedule for Easter, but if not then Easter will fluctuate as to whether you or your ex-spouse have possession of your child on the holiday from year to year. Easter can occur as early as mid-March and as late as April depending on the year.

What about other holidays besides Easter?

You need to know that holiday visitation schedules usually trump the sort of 鈥渆very other weekend鈥 possession schedule that I generally laid out for you earlier in this blog post. If you are the parent who has weekend visitation with your child, you may lose out on a weekend because of Mother鈥檚 Day/Father鈥檚 Day falling on your particular weekend. For example, if you are a mother who has weekend visitation with your child and your weekend so happens to fall on the same weekend as Father鈥檚 Day, you will lose that weekend to your ex-spouse so he can spend that weekend with your child.

Questions that arise as circumstances change after a divorce

Now that we have covered some basics of visitation schedules in Texas, let鈥檚 spend the rest of today鈥檚 blog post covering questions that frequently arise regarding this subject.

For starter鈥檚 what happens if your Christmas holiday visitation interferes with your ex-spouse鈥檚 weekend for visitation. What happens then?

If you are able to spend Christmas Day with your child this year according to your divorce decree, but Christmas falls on your ex-spouse鈥檚 weekend of the month you do not need to worry. Holiday visitation, as I explained a moment ago, always trumps the regular parenting days that are in effect for non-holiday portions of the calendar year. This plan allows for slight variations in providing more or less time, but generally outlines visitation during the school year. Holidays may complicate the plan slightly, but there鈥檚 no need for excessive concern.

Do birthday visitation days take precedence over holiday visitation?

This question may appear minor, but it鈥檚 been posed to me previously, prompting me to share my thoughts here. Imagine your visitation time for a holiday coincides with your child鈥檚 birthday. In your divorce decree, you and your spouse agreed to split your son鈥檚 birthday between yourselves. If you also have that holiday in any given year (say his birthday falls the day after Thanksgiving this year) what will end up happening?

In my opinion, the court would likely rule that the birthday is more important than the holiday visitation. There is no precedent that I am aware of that a court would follow. Like many issues in Texas family law, the facts of your case are incredibly important to how a judge would rule. If it is obvious to both sides that your son values his birthday a great deal and would want to see both parents then that is the way that a judge is likely to come down. Overall, it is better for you and your spouse to figure this out before your divorce is over with.

What happens if your regularly scheduled weekend falls within a holiday for your ex-spouse?

Picture this: it鈥檚 the fifth weekend in November, and you鈥檙e slated for your last weekend visitation period of the month. However, Thanksgiving takes place the day before your visitation period is supposed to start, so the holiday period is coming to an end. Given that it is an even year, it is your spouse鈥檚 turn to see your child. Who gets the weekend- you or your spouse?

Custodial Priorities

As you might expect from my previous responses, your spouse receives your child for the weekend, even if it鈥檚 a regularly scheduled break that you would typically have. The holiday always takes precedence over 鈥渞egularly鈥 scheduled weekend visits as laid out in a Standard Possession Order.

What if your ex-spouse is granted time under the possession order but chooses not to utilize it? As in, what if it is your ex-spouse鈥檚 turn to have the kids for the first half of Christmas break. This usually begins at 6:00 p.m. on the Friday school lets out for Christmas and will end on December 27thor thereabouts. However, your spouse sends you a text message that he isn鈥檛 able to see the kids until the following Monday before Christmas. Are you in the wrong to keep the kids or do you have to give them to your ex-spouse?

Custodial Rights

If your ex-spouse tells you (especially in writing) that he is forfeiting his time with the kids then you are under no obligation to provide them to him. Obviously, if he comes back and says that a change in his schedule has occurred and he now wants the kids, that would change things. Another factor I would point you towards is whether or not your final decree of divorce has a right of first refusal included within it. A right of first refusal mandates that your ex-spouse allows you 鈥渇irst dibs鈥 on taking your children for any period of time that he is ordinarily entitled to, in terms of visitation time.聽He would have to let you know that he couldn鈥檛 have the kids and allow you a specific period of time to make a decision as to whether or not you want to take them.

How much weight to verbal agreements carry?

The final subject I wanted to discuss today involves the verbal agreement to modify a possession schedule. Suppose that you and your ex-spouse agreed to flip-flop periods of holiday possession this year. Instead of you having Thanksgiving, you would offer that to your ex-spouse in exchange for you getting all of Christmas break. You didn鈥檛 get anything in writing but there was a clear, verbal agreement in place.

Flash forward to the day before Thanksgiving break. You鈥檝e made plans to travel to see family since you won鈥檛 be able to stay home with your kids. However, your ex-spouse is now telling you that he no longer wants to abide by that agreement. Unfortunately, he is able to do this, especially if you didn鈥檛 get anything in writing. The default orders are what is included in your final decree of divorce. Absent an agreement to the contrary, those are what will rule the day. Yes, this puts you in an unenviable situation but that is one of the downsides to having to live with a possession/visitation order.

Conclusion

While the holiday season may pose additional challenges for families navigating divorce or marital issues, understanding the Texas Standard Possession Order holiday schedule can provide clarity and structure during this transitional period. By familiarizing oneself with the visitation and possession arrangements outlined in the order, individuals can better navigate the complexities of co-parenting and establish a new routine that prioritizes the well-being of all family members. Additionally, seeking guidance from legal professionals and engaging in open communication with co-parents can facilitate smoother transitions and foster a more harmonious post-divorce environment.

Questions about holiday visitation? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan appreciate your having spent some time with us today. If you have any questions about the material that we just covered or are seeking clarification on anything else having to do with Texas family law please do not hesitate to contact our office. We offer free of charge consultations six days a week with one of our licensed family law attorneys. These consultations are a great opportunity to meet with an attorney and get direct feedback about your case and your family.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Spring, Texas Divorce Lawyer

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding聽divorce, it鈥檚 important to speak with one of our聽Spring, TX聽Divorce Lawyers聽right away to protect your rights.

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

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