Another federal holiday was gained in 2021 as Juneteenth was added to the list of special observances by our federal government. It not only means that we all have another day to celebrate but it also means potential changes and additions to possession and visitation schedules for Texas families. Today we are seeing our federal government, some local governments, and many private businesses observe the holiday by giving time off to their employees. What does the addition of Juneteenth mean to your possession and visitation schedule this year? How do Monday holidays generally impact position and visitation schedules?
As it happens, this year Juneteenth fell on Father's Day. For most of you reading this blog post father's Day is always a day for dads to be able to have possession of the children at least for a time long enough to share a meal. This would be true even if the weekend did not fall on the first, 3rd, or 5th weekend of the month additionally, summertime visitation allows for the non-possessory parent to have up to 30 days of designated possession time. If you chose June as your month to have possession of the children, then your Co-parent could not choose Father's Day before their weekend during this month.
This past weekend, on which Juneteenth and Father's Day fell, was the third weekend of June. As I just finished talking about, most of you reading this blog posts who are the possessory conservator of your children should have had a weekend of visitation. The Texas family code states that possession for fathers during this past weekend likely began at 6:00 PM on a Friday and ended at 6:00 PM on Sunday or even 8 hey I'm on the following morning if you had extended standard possession orders in your divorce decree or child custody order.
What I would like to discuss with you today is the impact of the Juneteenth holiday on position 4 this weekend and future weekends. The first place we can look to is the Texas family code. The code states that if a weekend period of possession of the possessory conservator coincides with a federal, state, or local holiday that falls on a Monday during the summer months in which school is not in session, the weekend positions shall end at 6:00 PM on Monday. This gives us our marching orders not only for weekends that involved Juneteenth but other federal holidays during the school year.
Ultimately, what the Texas family code says may differ from what you and your Co-parent agreed to in your custody orders. In addition, we all know that circumstances may arise during the lives of our family that create situations where changes need to be made, I could drop off a hat or at a moment’s notice. Kids get sick, parents get sick, new events get added to the calendar, and on and on. Therefore, you not only need to be aware of what your family court orders state, but you also need to be cognizant that situations can change at the drop of a hat depending on the needs of your family.
Where does this leave you for the rest of this weekend? Well, in case you and your Co-parent have been disagreeing over the nature of this weekend, you can point him or her to section 153 of the Texas family code as well as the language that is likely contained in your child custody orders. That should give him or her a pretty clear indication that Father's Day, as well as Juneteenth, allows for summer visitation to be extended until this evening at 6:00 PM. It is not the case that possession of another child should have ended at 6:00 PM on Sunday as it may usually during other weekends of the year.
Of course, as we just talked about, your family may have agreed to something completely different in your child custody orders. What works for your family may not work as well for others and vice versa. You cannot expect to create family court orders that function well for your family which is based on the experiences and needs of another family. As a result, I recommend that you work with an experienced family law attorney while negotiating or renegotiating court orders. The last thing you want to do is negotiate court orders that leave you scratching your head in terms of what your responsibilities are on a given holiday or during a certain time of year.
As a father of four little ones myself, I understand the importance of celebrating holidays like Father's Day, Juneteenth, or any other holiday. As a result, I don't want to waste any opportunities that are available to me with my children. One way for you to protect your time with your children and ensure that you can take as much quality time with them as possible is to not put yourself in a position like you may find yourself right now. Arguing with your Co-parent or X spouse about some aspect of your child custody orders is not ideal, to say the least. While it may be too late to take advantage of the services of an experienced family law attorney for your first case you can always work on getting the job done right this second time.
If you are seeking renegotiation of a child custody order or simply have questions about your existing order, please reach out and contact the law office of Brian Fagan today. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultation six days a week in person at our two Houston area locations, over the phone, and via video. These consultations can go a long way towards helping you identify potential issues in your court order as well as to learn how best to interpret the various provisions in your child custody orders that relate to issues like weekend visitation that are extended by holidays.
Going back and forth over text messages about when the kids should be coming home or what issues may be arising related to visitation each week or weekend is not what you want to spend your time doing as a parent. I have seen many parents, particularly fathers, tell us about their experiences in family law cases where they have extreme difficulty in getting the full time with their children because I've been aggressive or purposefully ignorant X spouse or Co-parent who chooses to interpret court orders in a way that always leads to an argument. If this is the situation that you find yourself in do not despair. Rather, you can work with an experienced family law attorney with the law office of Brian Fagan.
We can work with you to problem solve and create solutions to whatever issues you are facing in your life as a parent. Seeking to set aside his otherwise important shoes is not a great way for you to deal with problems like this. Rather, you should directly address issues as they arise and handle them before they become longstanding problems for your family. Whether you are someone who has just gone through a divorce or child custody case or are a veteran of these types of cases, you can stand to benefit a great deal from having our turn ease help you not only interpret prior orders but work on modifying and enforcing those orders if necessary.
What is the impact on Father's Day possession if the mother has visitation rights?
This blog post has been written assuming that you as the father are the possessory conservator of your children. If we want to talk in non-lawyer speak, a possessory conservator is a parent who has visitation rights to the kids. Visitation rights typically mean possessing Other children on their first, 3rd, and 5th weekends of each month. The assumption would go further that your children's mother would have primary possession and therefore would have other weekends and weekdays to spend with the children.
I realize that this is a bold assumption to make but it is based on most circumstances for mothers and fathers that I have worked with. However, it is certainly true that you may not be in a situation where you are reading this blog post as a father primarily. You may be a mother reading this blog post who has weekend visitation with your children but wants to know how Father's Day should have been handled this year and how it should be handled in future years.
Regardless of this being Father's Day, it is first and foremost the third weekend of June period as such, it would typically be a weekend during the year that you would have the right to possess your children. What we see regarding Father's Day, however, is that your children's father would be able to take advantage of the holiday and have them for the described period that we talked about earlier in today's blog post. The Father's Day holiday would trump your normal third week in a possession. This is almost certainly the case in your situation.
We have seen that Father's Day possession as a rule ends at 6:00 PM on Sunday if your children's father is not the possessory conservator of them. Juneteenth as a federal holiday is observed today, June the 20th. As a result, you would still be able to take advantage of the extended holiday time with your children even though you are not the child's father. Once 6:00 PM this evening comes around your normal possession schedule would go back into place.
The interaction of summer visitation, Juneteenth, and Father's Day
All this is to say that you need to be closely looking at your child custody orders as you not only head into summer but into the school year as well. Child custody orders are not something that you can reduce to memory or review one time immediately after your family law case and then never pick up again. Rather, you need to be aware of what your responsibilities and rights are under the order. You can lose a great deal of time insanity in not understanding your court orders. Not intentionally reviewing your court orders and working with your Co-parent to implement them into your lives is a big mistake. This situation more readily leads to you losing time with your children and allowing your Co-parent to have greater periods with the children than the court order would allow for. Time with our children is precious. The last thing you want to do is lose out on an opportunity to spend time with them for no good reason.
If you happen to be coming across this blog post and are still going through a divorce or child custody case, then I recommend for you talk with your attorney about any misunderstandings that you have about the order. If something doesn't make sense to you or you want clarification on something now is the time for you to work with your attorney to clear up the misunderstanding or otherwise have your questions answered. It is a major last opportunity for you to sign your name to a court order that you do not understand or even contains mistakes. I can understand your reluctance to delay your case even by a day or two, but it will pay off in the long run if there is a mistake that you caught in the order.
A rule that I like to live by in my personal and professional life is that to be unclear as to be unkind. You should be clear with others when communicating so that there are limited opportunities for misunderstandings. The more unclear that you are with someone or the more you try to hide something from someone the greater chance there is for acrimony and fighting down the road. Rather than finding yourself in this position, it is better to be clear with someone even if it results in hurt feelings or other negative emotions at the moment you are delivering the message. Threading the needle between clear messaging and fairness is a trick that you will have to learn to be successful in co-parenting your children with an ex-spouse.
This weekend is a perfect example of how this may be true for you and your family. With multiple holidays, including a federal holiday, on the schedule for the third weekend of June, it is easy to confuse yourself and your Co-parent about who gets possession and for how long. With Juneteenth having only been made of federal holiday a year ago it is possible or even likely that your Co-parent may not even be aware that it is a holiday that is honored by the federal government in this way. For that reason, he or she may have been acting like this weekend was Father's Day weekend and that's it.
Families in your position should always have a physical copy of the court orders available for review. This is important not only for you to understand before your Co-parent as well. I would like to have a PDF copy of the order available, as well as a hard copy to keep in my desk drawer, were I in a situation where possession of my children was impacted by a court order. This way I can refer to the court order myself and e-mail relevant portions to a Co-parent. In this way, you can hopefully clear up issues early on in a case rather than let them fester.
The reality is that if you can immediately clear up a misconception about the order then you have a good chance of making it a non-issue. However, if your Co-parent honestly believes one thing to be true when it is not then he or she may have an issue with changing their perception or belief on order even after you show them that their position is wrong. Having a court order handy can solve this issue for you and your family.
As with anything regarding weekend visitation, child custody, and Co-parenting in general, the situation can become confusing or difficult depending upon the specific circumstances of your case and family life. While there is nothing you can do to completely remove the risk of harm to your family when it comes to disagreements over custody and possession one of the things that you can do to minimize future risks of harm is to work with an experienced attorney who can help you draft clear and concise child custody orders. If you can remove doubt about possession and visitation schedules before the doubt arises you can better enjoy weekends like Juneteenth and Father's Day.
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