Getting together who are the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are two of the most time-honored and anticipated traditions that we have in our country. Even as adults, we can look back with smiles on the times that we were able to share with our families gather around the table, watch football on television, and play with siblings and cousins. These are some of the most cherished times of the year and are events that can take on added importance for parents who are not able to see their children as regularly as they would like.
If you are a parent who has gone through challenges associated with a family law case previously then you know how crucial it is for you to not take for granted the time that you have especially during the holidays with your children. To be able to gain an understanding of how to maximize the time with your children that you are provided is very important both for you and for them. Sometimes we can get lost in the planning and details of a holiday and we can forget that it is the children who stand to gain the most from opportunities to visit with family and spend time with their parents.
Managing the transition for your children from living in a home with both of their parents to living in separate households with each parent can be challenging. If you are going through a divorce right now, then odds are good that your case may wrap itself up hi there during this summer months or in early fall. If that does happen, then your first real opportunity to share custody with your Co-parent for a major holiday season will be this year. To avoid confusion, disruption, and generally a level of frustration that can occur in cases like this, you should begin to prepare for these events now. This blog post is intended to help provide you with some guidance and information that may be helpful to you.
In this blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, we are going to discuss how you may best be able to manage the transition period that your family will be experiencing as you begin to share possession of your children with a Co-parent during the holidays. By no means would I tell you that by reading this blog post you can avoid every instance of frustration related to the subject. I don't think there is any bit of advice you can take in the entire world that will give you that sort of Peace of Mind. However, the reality of the situation is that if you are doing this for the first time during the holidays there are some relatively simple tips and pieces of information that we can provide you with that should be able to give you a leg up on any kind of frustrating events that may or may not occur for your family.
For today's blog post I'm going to write about you and your family as if you had a standard possession order contained in your court orders or some variation on the standard possession order. As the name indicates, a standard possession order is a tried-and-true method of how many families in Texas divide time with children after a family law case. The standard possession order typically allows for first, 3rd, and 5th-weekend visitation for the non-custodial parent in addition to shared holiday time. At no time of the year is this more important than during the holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving.
Holiday visitation for a non-custodial parent
The standard possession order attempts to divide time with children as evenly as possible between you and your co-parent. It may feel like you do not have all the time that you would like with your children, but a standard possession order aims to give both you and your co-parent meaningful time with the kids both during the school year and during holidays. Sharing visitation with the Co-parent can be difficult especially if you are accustomed to having time with your children whenever and wherever you choose. However, this is the reality that will impact your life with your children moving forward.
You should become as familiar as you can be with the language in your court order regarding custody and possession of children. It is certainly helpful to be able to have a plan when it comes to this subject. Without a doubt, some of the most frustrating times in a single parent’s life is having to share custody and possession with a Co-parent. The challenges of doing this become even more profound when you and your Co-parent do not see eye to eye on issues related to visitation with your kids. This is probably something that you experienced during your family law case.
Once your family law case comes to an end you need to pay close attention to the language contained in your parenting plan regarding holiday visitation. For the most part, you and your Co-parent can probably get into a predictable rhythm as it pertains to weekend visitation during the school year. These periods of possession are predictable and are straightforward specifically if you have a standard possession order. Most families can get into a pretty good rhythm of alternating possession time during the holidays as well as taking advantage of weekday and three-day weekends.
If you are the non-custodial parent to your children then this means that you will be the parent who has weekend visitation with your children during the school year. It can feel like the time that you have with your children is less than you would prefer in that your Co-parent has the definite advantage in time with the kids. This is with good reason. If you look at a calendar of possession time with your kids, then you will pretty clearly see that during the school year your Co-parent will have more time with the kids than you do. However, the holiday season is much more equal in terms of the time that you can spend with your children compared to your Co-parent.
Having a clear understanding of the standard possession order and the specific orders for possession contained in your parenting plan is crucial for you as a non-custodial parent to be able to take advantage of all the time that you are provided for in your court orders. Do not lose track of the benefits of your court order especially if you are a parent who has been denied possession of your children regularly previously. The time that you are promised in your court order should be the most important thing throughout the year for you and your kids to be able to enjoy together. Making sure that you understand your court order is a great way 2 defend that time that you do have with your kids and put yourself in a position where you can focus on them during those predetermined periods of possession.
How are Christmas and Thanksgiving divided between parents and a standard possession order?
If you are your child's non-custodial parent, then you will have possession of your child during Thanksgiving break in odd-numbered years under a standard possession order. The opposite would be true if you are a custodial parent. Additionally, a standard possession order divides the Christmas break into two parts for custodial and non-custodial parents. A non-custodial parent in even-numbered years will have possession of your children from the day that school is let out for the holiday until December 28th. This includes Christmas Day. in odd-numbered years you as the non-custodial parent we'll have possession of your children beginning on December 8th until the day before school resumes for the spring semester.
The reason why Christmas break is divided into two halves is due to the length of the holiday. Christmas break tends to be a little bit more than two weeks in length most of the time based on school district calendars. For that reason, both parents are allowed to spend time with their children. It can be difficult to lose Christmas morning with your children as well as the other important aspects of Christmas, especially from a religious perspective. However, if you do not have Christmas under a standard possession order this year then you can spend Christmas with your children next year.
Around the holidays, unfortunately, it is not uncommon for the attorneys with our law office to receive phone calls from concerned and frustrated clients who are experiencing problems with possession issues related to Christmas exchanges. Much of the time this is due to the other parent simply not reading through the possession schedule with an eye for detail. Simple things like misunderstanding when picking up for the second half of Christmas this supposed to occur or assuming that there is something in the orders that allow for both parents to have possession of the child on Christmas are common as she used to encounter around the holidays.
However, since we have already established that time with the kids is crucial during the school year and holidays the last thing you want to do is concern yourself with arguing with a Co-parent instead of enjoying the time that you have with your kids. There is a great deal that you can do to avoid misunderstandings and honor the court orders that you have agreed to with a Co-parent. It is not necessary to concern yourself with these issues predominantly and two not be able to enjoy the time that you do have with your children. However, it may be best to plan out in advance how this transition period will work and what your family can do to maximize the time that you do get with your children.
Splitting up holiday time with your kids when not under a standard possession order
While a standard possession order is a tried-and-true method for dividing time between four children in between co-parents that do not necessarily mean that it is in the best interests of you and your family. Different families have different needs when it comes to possession and visitation. Hopefully, this is something that you realized during your family law case and not afterward. The reason being is that it is much easier to change proposed court orders rather than court orders that have already been signed off on by a judge.
Nothing is forcing you in a Texas family law case 2 agreed to a standard possession order. Just because many people use standard possession orders to divide time between their children and themselves does not mean that you must do so. There are a lot of options available to you when it comes to creating your custody and possession schedule. All it takes is some creativity on your part and that of your Co-parent. Additionally, you and your Co-parent must be willing to work together to make sure that what you negotiated during your case is actually What you plan on practicing as co-parents once your case is over.
For Thanksgiving break, for example, you and you're coherent may prefer to be able to allow both of you to have possession of your children on Thanksgiving itself. In large part, this depends upon how close you all live together and whether you can make the logistics work as far as getting your child from one home to the other. My family has divided up the power on Thanksgiving Day between my family celebration and my wife’s for many years. However, both sides of the family live in the Houston area and are willing to make the transportation part of it work.
Next, you and your Co-parent may want to be able to follow a schedule where you each possess the children for a week at a time during Christmas break. Admittedly, this is not that significant of a variation compared to what Christmas break already calls for under a standard possession order. However, if you and your Co-parent went to see something happen as far as possession and visitation are concerned then this is certainly up to you all to negotiate for it.
The most important thing that you need to keep in mind when you are negotiating custody orders that deviate from a standard possession order is that you need to be clear with what the order calls for as far as pick-up drop-offs and general logistics surrounding the plan. If you and your Co-parent are not specific in your orders then there may be problems with being able to understand and follow through with what you all had intended. do not allow all your hard work during the family law case to be wasted. Instead, make sure that you are being as specific as you can be regarding possession and access time with your kids.
if you are completing your family law case this summer then it is a smart move for you to review your parenting plan and possession schedule just before Thanksgiving. This means reviewing those plans and the language in a place that is quiet and free of interruption. I like the idea of doing this after the kids have all gone to bed and end with the television and any other distractions put away. This way you can look through the order on your schedule and make sure that you don't have any questions that might impact your possession of your children during the upcoming holidays.
Next, you should reach out to your Co-parent before the holidays to make sure that the both of you are on the same page as far as how to manage the upcoming holidays. you can take advantage of electronic communication or speak to him or her face to face. It doesn't matter. Assuming that the two of you are on the same page with visitation issues is a major mistake. When I talk to clients about it that if you are making assumptions that you all are on the same page with these issues then it is more likely that you are not on the same page. Verify that he or she understands exactly when picking up and dropping off your child will occur and go over any other issues that may be relevant to your circumstances. By doing this you can best ensure that the holiday season will be a joyful one for you and your family.
Questions about the material contained in today's blog post? 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 offer 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.
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