Summer Break and Child Custody
Texas family law focuses on ensuring that children are able to spend time with both parents while still maintaining a stable home and school environment. Therefore, the custodial parent will spend the vast majority of the school year with the child, with the exception of every other weekend. Summer visit arrangements are designed to allow the child to spend a significant amount of time with the non-custodial parent in order to help ensure a positive relationship despite parental separation.
Unless your divorce proceedings included a written plan for child custody and visitation approved by the court, you’ll be following the Standard Possession Order outlined by Texas law. Summer visitation and custody, also called possession in Texas code, follows the typical alternating weekend arrangement with three key exceptions:
- 30 days of extended possession time for the non-custodial parent
- 1 weekend inside the 30 days for the custodial parent
- 1 weekend that would normally belong to the non-custodial parent can be changed to the custodial parent
Under this standard custody order, the non-custodial parent must submit their desired summer visitation dates, which may be split into two sessions if preferred, by April 1st. If not, the non-custodial parent’s extended visitation or possession dates default to the month of July. Visit dates begin and end at 6pm, unless otherwise stated in your custody and visitation agreement.
Similarly, the custodial parent must also abide by notification deadlines. The date of the weekend on which the custodial parent wishes to take the child during the non-custodial parent’s 30 days of extended possession must be submitted by April 15th. If not, the custodial parent will not have the right to a weekend with the child during the non-custodial parent’s summer visit.
The second weekend allowance for the custodial parent, which must take place outside of the 30-day summer visit, requires a minimum of 14 days’ written notice. This weekend allows the custodial parent an extra weekend with the child, who would normally be with the non-custodial parent on that weekend.
Exceptions to Standard Possession
Texas law does allow for alternatives to the standard possession order, particularly due to year-round schooling or demanding work schedules. Children under the age of three are also typically placed under different visitation orders with attention to the needs of the child. However, the court encourages gradual shifts toward the standard possession order as the child ages.
Although the law also permits parents to write their own custody and visitation agreement, the courts strongly encourage that, except in extreme circumstances, parents be given equal access to the child. This means that agreements similar to the standard possession order are looked upon more favorably and are more likely to be upheld by the court.
Contact an Attorney
If you have questions about or would like to alter your summer custody and visitation arrangements, you will want an experienced family lawyer’s assistance. The Houston child custody attorneys at Lindamood & Robinson, P.C., can help to ensure that you receive time with your child and that his/her best interests are respected. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.