One of the confusing and tricky aspects of managing a custody schedule with a Co-parent is regarding what happens during holidays and three-day weekends. For most of the year parents in your position have a standard Saturday and Sunday schedule to base their lives around. However, holidays that occur either on a Friday or a Monday extend periods of possession in most cases. This does not stop parents from having some degree of confusion about the schedules for their family as well as the possible need to account for childcare and other considerations.
In sports, the term unforced error is used regarding situations where mistakes are made by a team, or an individual does neglect on their part rather than a forced mistake by the action of an opponent. Well, mistakes are unavoidable in sports just as they are in life. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t work to minimize the occurrence of mistakes that you have in your daily life as a Co-parent. Before we discuss the subject of three-day weekends for Texas families, I would like to discuss with you my perspective on unforced errors when it comes to Texas possession schedules and court orders.
Avoiding errors and creating custody orders that work well for your family
One of the most common regrets that I have seen parents in your shoe experience because of a child custody or divorce case is the literal wording of their court orders. For many parents such as yourself who go through long and difficult family law cases. The reality of the situation is that it is very possible to overlook factors involving the actual orders that you are negotiating themselves throughout the family law case. This is true in large part due to there being so much to compete for your time during a child custody or divorce case. The negotiations that you have regarding a divorce case can take up so much of your time and energy that the content of the actual orders themselves can be of secondary importance or concern. However, I think this is a major mistake and something for you to keep an eye on and avoid if at all possible.
Being able to complete the job and concisely include all your settled-upon issues is the final step of any family law case. Without the ability to do so it can become difficult for you and your Co-parent to be able to feel like your case was worth it or was the most beneficial that I could have been all things considered. You want to be able to make sure that what you negotiated throughout your case ends up in the court orders themselves. Here is why I think that is so important for you and your family to remember.
Ultimately, the court orders that you and your Co-parent negotiate when it comes to possession, access, and any other subject related to your children are what will be remembered about your case. Any opinions that you all may have regarding fairness, equity, or different subjects related to your children will not factor into anything in your post-divorce or post-child custody lives. Rather, when the dust settles from your case the thing that truly matters is what those court orders have to say regarding the important subjects related to your children. If he remembered this as you go through or begin a child custody case, then everything else will fall into place as far as importance in your life.
There are many reasons why it is important to make sure that your court orders are clear, concise, and understandable by anyone who reads them. On a practical level, you and your Co-parent will be relying upon these orders to guide your lives and plan a schedule for yourselves on a year-to-year basis. At the beginning of each year, you can look to those court orders to prepare for the coming year’s events. Not only are day-to-day and week-to-week visitation issues covered in your court orders but you will also be able to find out notice deadlines as far as selecting your period of possession during the summer as a non-custodial parent as well as designated weekends of possession during the summer if you are a custodial parent. Understanding what is required of you in this regard can benefit both you and your child moving forward.
Next, having negotiated possession schedules within your child custody orders means that there will be far fewer disagreements and misunderstandings when it comes to this subject between you and your Co-parent. When we talk about unforced errors in the world of child custody cases it is a shame that this is one of the most prominent ones that I run across consistently. No one is forcing attorneys and their clients to not pay attention or not negotiate thoroughly enough to be able to have concise and clear orders. Although these orders come about at the end of a case there is a great deal of importance when it comes to being able to work through them and take the time to have clear-cut orders that everyone can follow.
the main issue with having child custody orders that are difficult to understand is that you and your Co-parent are relying upon these orders to guide you and your children during your day-to-day lives. If there are aspects of the custody orders that are unclear to you then they should be something that you discuss with your attorney before the end of your case. The reason I say this is that it is much easier to change court orders that are in only a draft form rather than trying to change court orders that are already signed off on by the judge. The best time to ask questions about things you do not understand in your court orders or during the case itself. Please do not assume that this is something that you can work out with the court or with your Co-parent after the conclusion of your case.
The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan work to take the time to draft court orders that are well thought out and based on mediated settlement agreements of our clients or orders handed down by a judge. We know that the tendency is for everyone to try to speed up a case at the end to get to the finish line. However, finishing your case with court orders that are not descriptive or clear serve no purpose and benefits no one in particular. As a result, our attorneys go through in detailed fashion each aspect of the possession order with our clients so a Do you understand the language used in what it means for your life on a practical and day-to-day basis.
What I will recommend to clients is that after each year, you get a physical or online calendar and begin to mark it up with important dates, possession exchanges, and other events based on what you know about the following year and the custody circumstances you find yourselves in. As I mentioned a moment ago, there are many online calendars that you and your Co-parent can both update and make additions to as needed. This way you and your Co-parent can avoid situations where there are misunderstandings that could otherwise be avoided about pick up, and drop off at the end of holidays and weekends.
The importance of clear language in a possession and access enforcement case
The most important aspect related to having clear-cut and easy-to-understand language in your child custody or divorce order is the future need to enforce those orders. It is not only for your eyes that order is designed around. Rather, it may happen that in the future your order will go before a family court judge. The judge will then need to approach the order from the standpoint of someone who has two interpret the order and potentially enforce the terms of the order called upon to do so.
This is done through something called an enforcement case. If your Co-parent violates the terms how is your divorce decree or child custody orders, you will have an opportunity to address that directly with the family court judge. This usually entails the filing of an enforcement case. Within the enforcement petition itself, you will be responsible for presenting information to the judge regarding the alleged misconduct on the part of your Co-parent. For instance, the violations that occurred, the number of violations, the dates on which they occurred as well as any information regarding those violations will need to be included in your enforcement petition.
If it is regarding possession and access that your enforcement petition pertains to, then you will likely be asking for make-up visitation time. Let’s suppose that your ex-husband dropped your children off at your home late on 10 consecutive weekends. If you can show the judge that late drop-offs more violations of your court order, then you can position yourself well in terms of getting make-up time with your children or seeking any other kind of relief that the court will allow for. The most significant limitation that you may have in this regard, however, is if the order that you are attempting to enforce is not awarded very clearly.
If the family court judge determines that it is reasonable for your Co-parent to not have understood their responsibility under the terms of your order, then the judge will likely decline to enforce the order. This could be the case even if your ex-spouse was in the wrong in terms of their actions and failure to abide by the terms that you had agreed to in mediation. The key to this entire discussion is making sure that the court order is as clear as the mediated settlement agreement that the order was based on. The judge will not go back and look at the mediated settlement agreement in addition to the court orders that the judge signed previously. Rather, you need to make sure that the court orders reflect your best understanding of the settlement and are written in clear and concise language.
It can be one of the most frustrating experiences associated with a family law case to find that all of the hard work in the time that you put into your case ended up not making an embedded difference as far as providing you and your family with Peace of Mind. Going through all the trouble of the initial family law case and then seeing the enforcement case fail due to issues with the drafting of your prior court order is enough to make your hair stand up on end. Fortunately, there are ways to avoid putting yourself in a situation where this has happened to you and your family.
Possession schedules for three-day weekends
The three-day holiday weekend visitation arrangement is useful for when your child visits you on weekends as part of a standard possession order. During the school year, most of your visitation time with your children will be on weekends. This is done to not interrupt the child’s school schedule and other needs on a day-to-day basis. Keep in mind that this schedule and this information do not apply to your Co-parent who already has primary custody of the kids. In that case, custody and visitation would not be changed.
The whole purpose behind a three-day weekend arrangement with your children is that everything is based on the school calendar. Any parent who has gone through a significant amount with their children regarding school over the past few years can talk and vouch for the importance of maintaining an inconsistent schedule around school. For that reason, three-day weekends are not intended to change anything about how the children attend school. The bottom line is that you as the parent who has that weekend of possession will be dropping your child off at school or returning your child the night before school starts back up when there is no school on Monday. This way, you will have an extra day with your child.
Some of the more common three-day weekend holidays are for Martin Luther King Junior day, Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Columbus Day. The tricky part of this entire discussion from the standpoint of a parent who is trying to negotiate a child possession order is that both you and your Co-parent are more likely to want to have as much time with your children as possible. This is especially true on three-day weekends where the atmosphere can be a little more relaxed because the children don’t immediately have to be rushed back to the other parent’s home for school. As a result, I would recommend that you pay close attention to how these three-day weekends are handled within your court orders. Do not leave it up to chance and assume that everything will work out for the best without having first thought through the issue.
It can be especially interesting to negotiate this subject when you and your Co-parent are not designated as possessory or primary conservators. For example, how would you all handle this subject if you all were splitting custody and time with the kids? One way would be that you could alternate any three-day weekends that are on the school calendar. You could have Martin Luther King Day weekend and then your Co-parent could have Presidents’ Day and the schedule would reverse back and forth until you made it through the entire year. Ultimately, the way you divide up these weekends and structure them as far as pick up and drop off our concerns is completely up to the two of you. You may even choose to divide the three-day weekend into pieces. One parent would have the first half of the three-day weekend and their parent would have the second. This may be an especially good plan for children who are older and for parents who live close together. Otherwise, you may run into a situation where the transportation required to facilitate this sort of back and forth is more than what your family is willing to tolerate considering the relatively short period that is a three-day weekend.
Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Please have dictated to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offering free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video? These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case. Thank you for your interest in our law office and we hope you will join us again here tomorrow.