Flexibility is something that we all value in our lives. One of the reasons why remote work became so popular during the pandemic was that it allowed those of us who worked at home to toggle the on and off switch between work and our home lives with much more ease. As a result, we were better able to attend to matters related to our family, given the proximity between our home and our places of work. Instead of devoting an hour or two hours per day to simply getting to work, we would be able to work from home and have extra time for ourselves and our families.
Another impact of the pandemic was that much pent-up energy towards pursuits related to leisure and fun had to be put on the sideline. It is no wonder why hospitality and other fields saw humongous decreases in revenue during the pandemic when people were not allowed to travel. Travel is important to the economy, but it is important for each of us and our families. Being able to get out and see the world, whether around the block or the world, is important to us and our mental well-being.
People in Southeast Texas are well-seasoned travelers. We need only look at our demographics to see what a relatively high percentage of us came from other parts of the world and eventually moved to Texas. As a result, we are a people on the move and are comfortable traveling for fun and business. Whether traveling is done on the road or in the air, Southeast Texas residence R well known for their love of travel; with that said, the flexibility that is a necessity for many types of travel can be impacted by a family law case having been filed.
Consider that simply planning a vacation can be made more difficult due to too the reality that a family court order does not always allow you to have your children during the most opportune times. For example, if you are the primary conservator of your children, then the bulk of the time you spent with your children is during the school year. This means that their kids live with you more than with your Co-parent, but this necessarily cuts off a relatively high percentage of the time you could ordinarily spend traveling with your family.
Standard possession orders and holiday travel
The most common form of custody arrangement for Texas families after a child custody or divorce case is joint custody. More specifically, you and your Co-parent will likely be named as joint managing conservators. This means that the two of you will be sharing conservatorships' rights and duties about your kids. The right to make decisions for your children regarding their health, education, and overall well being are a part of this discussion. Additionally, you also have the responsibility to care for your children and see that they have the necessities of life regarding food, clothing, shelter, and basic education.
Additionally, having a joint managing conservatorship for your family also sets the two of you up to share time with your children. One important element of this discussion is that you and your Co-parent can fully negotiate your way through this subject and determine a custody and possession schedule that suits both of you well. There is nothing that forces both of you to take on a possession schedule simply because it is contained in the Texas family code or because another family has utilized it. The benefit of attending mediation and working with your Co-parent on issues like this is that both of you can understand the specific issues impacting your family and make decisions that are in your child's best interests as far as possession is concerned.
For example, it could be that you and your Co-parent or work typical work schedules and as a result were choired more flexibility or different types of possession with your children. Maybe having a week with your children per parent suits you all the better than more frequent drop-off and pick-up times. Or, it could be that your children's schedules and their specific needs make it so more frequent to exchange the position that worked better for your child. Whatever your circumstances are, you and your family can work through them to better position yourself and your children and do what is best for them.
Hire an attorney for best results in creating a child custody order
This is also an important reason why I recommend that parents like yourself go through family law cases work with experienced family law attorneys during a case. Not only does working with an attorney increase your ability to achieve goals, but it also allows your family to understand your options when it comes to creating a schedule for visitation and possession; as I mentioned a moment before, family law attorneys have experience in creating Cassidy arrangements for families just like yours. Those custody arrangements and schedules only work as well as when they are specifically tailored to the needs of your family.
So, if you and your Co-parent went online and looked up a possession order for your kids on a website or blog, then that arrangement may not work especially well for your family. This is true for several reasons. The first is that we need to be cognizant of logistical and travel considerations for your drop-off and pick-up times. You all can be very creative in coming up with a schedule for your family, but if you cannot facilitate the drop-off and pick-up times on the schedule, all that creativity sees any benefit for your family. What it can do is result in you frequently being late for either of those settings and then finding yourself facing an enforcement lawsuit for having violated your court order.
Another major advantage to hiring an experienced family law attorney regarding custody and possession schedules is that you will not be limited to the standard or run-of-the-mill position schedule. An attorney can help guide you by asking questions and determining your family's specific needs. Many people do not consider these questions as much as they should and wind up with an inadequate possession order that does not provide as much benefit as it perhaps should have. One of the keys to understanding visitation and possession is that the needs of your child come the first period; if you cannot create an order that benefits your children, then much of the work you will have put forth in your child custody or divorce case will have been for not.
What is a standard possession order?
For all the talk of creating court orders that are flexible and specifically tailored to you and your family, the vast majority of possession orders in Texas either mirror or mimic a standard possession order. The standard possession order is the template by which many child custody orders in Texas take their leads and are generally negotiated upon. The standard possession order is outlined in the Texas family code. While you and your Co-parent do not have to follow a standard possession order when it comes to negotiating your own Cassidy circumstances, a Texas family court judge would likely follow us in your possession order if asked to do so.
Consider a scenario where you and your Co-parent cannot agree on custody issues like creating a possession schedule. After attempting to negotiate your way through this subject in mediation, you were unable to do so. What occurred next was that a trial was scheduled that would allow for you and your Co-parent to submit differing evidence as to the importance of one particular possession schedule over another. While a judge can consider your arguments and the evidence submitted as to why one schedule is more beneficial and in the best interests of your child, they would probably create a possession schedule based on a standard possession order. Why is this the case when so many different options are available? The reality is that judges typically do not want to go out on a limb and suggest position orders atypical or may not suit your family well. For that reason, a family court judge would much more likely assign to you a standard possession order that may not suit your family perfectly, but more than likely will work for the majority of families.
You may be asking yourself how a family court judge would not be better positioned to create a specifically tailored possession order after a multiple-day trial. After all, hasn't the judge been present for the entirety of the trial? Wouldn't they have gained valuable insight into how your family functions as well as what may suit your family better in terms of custody? The reality is that a family law judge can only know so much about your family even after an extended trial. Certainly, the judge will not know your family's circumstances better than you and your Co-parent. If you and your Co-parent want a TaylorMade possession schedule for you and your family, you are better off trying to negotiate for one in mediation with one another.
Once you make it to a trial, you are more than likely to receive a court order that is generally applicable to many different types of families. Reason being that a family court judge will not want to create an order that requires you and your family to come back multiple times for additional modification or even enforcement hearings. It is the experience of many, if not most, family court judges that the more specific it becomes, the less enforceable it is. The more you will have to consider filing for modifications down the line. The standard possession order attempts to minimize the risk that people will want to come back to court and litigate anymore than they already have.
What are the hallmarks of a standard possession order?
If you are named as the joint managing conservator of your child who does not have the right to determine the primary residence of your child, this means that your children will live with your Co-parent on a full-time basis during the year. However, that does not mean that you cannot see your children or that your kids will see your Co-parent more frequently than anyone else. A standard possession order allows for the first, 3rd, and 5th-weekend visitation of each month for the nonprimary conservator during the school year. Additionally, you know I'm primary conservator will be able to have all of your children on Thursday of each week from 6:00 to 8:00 PM. I refer to this as a quick trip to a restaurant for dinner, and then it's almost time to take the kids home immediately.
Another important factor that goes into a standard position order is that holiday visitation is divided between you and your Co-parent. It is pretty standard for 4 parents under a standard possession order to alternate holidays from year to year. For example, you may have spring break during even years in your Co-parent may have spring break during odd years. The same is true for holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving. One major thing to note is that the same parent cannot have both Christmas and Thanksgiving with the children. This means that you should not plan to have the kids cut Turkey with you and open presents at your home on Christmas morning. However, anything is possible if you and your Co-parent can negotiate and agree on it.
Additionally, Christmas is divided into two parts due to its length. The first half of the Christmas holiday begins at 6:00 PM on the day schools let out and ends at 6:00 PM on December 28th. The second half of the Christmas holiday ends on the Sunday before school, being back in session at 6:00 PM. As we just talked about, you and your Co-parent are fully capable of negotiating for different periods in Christmas. Things only become a problem when one side deviates from a prior plan or otherwise will not agree to what you want during the settlement process.
Vacation plans and traveling after a family law case
While it is not as though a family law case will forever prevent you and your family from traveling again, it does complicate matters. Specifically, the primary Conservatory three children may not have consecutive days or weeks of possession of the kids at any point during the year. This reality alone makes planning extended vacations much more difficult. If you are the primary conservative of your children and would like to schedule a trip that is longer than a week in length, then you must work that out with your Co-parent. That's not to say that it can not be done, but the odds are against you.
On the other hand, the nonprimary conservator of your children typically has an extended summer holiday with the children at least one month in length. This allows the viewer to have greater autonomy over the time provided under your order. Many families decided to use these extended holidays to take trips and see families unavailable during the school year. However, you must be aware of the requirements in your family court orders as far as giving notice to the primary conservator of your intention to take advantage of specific periods of visitation in the summer. I recommend that you read through your child custody orders before the end of your case and ask questions of your attorney if there are any discrepancies or misunderstandings. By not providing notice as required in your court order, she may waive the right to take advantage of the holiday visitation during the summer months.
Otherwise, a thorough knowledge of her child custody orders and a good relationship with your Co-parent can make vacationing and travel with your children that much easier after a family law case. While you may not have all the autonomy and flexibility to pick up and go with your children whatever you would like, there are still ample opportunities for you after a family law case to travel period you need to plan and work diligently to foster a good relationship with your Co-parent.
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 consultation 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 and how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.