Do You Want Your Kids on Halloween or Easter?

Graham Family Law > Do You Want Your Kids on Halloween or Easter?

Consider this before you agree to a Custody Order or Final Decree of Divorce, because these holidays are not part of the Standard Possession Order. In the alternative, consider making an agreement with the other parent to deviate from the possession schedule in the current order.

In Texas, most parents participate in a holiday schedule that allows for both to have equal periods of time for Christmas, Thanksgiving, Spring Break, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and the child’s birthday. What this means is that one parent will have the kids on even-numbered years for the first half of Christmas and Spring Break, while the other will have Thanksgiving. This, of course, flips in odd-numbered years when the kids will go with the other parent for the first half of Christmas and Spring Break. The kids will always be with mom on Mother’s Day and dad for Father’s Day. On the child’s birthday, the parent not in possession of the child, has possession for two hours on that day. But….wait – why can’t you incorporate these days into your agreement for custody? The quick answer is – you can.

Most Decree’s that are entered before a Texas Court have the following language:

Mutual Agreement or Specified Terms for Possession

IT IS ORDERED that the conservators shall have possession of the child at times mutually agreed to in advance by the parties, and, in the absence of mutual agreement, it is ORDERED that the conservators shall have possession of the child under the specified terms set out in this Standard Possession Order.

The above language means that you don’t really have to go by the Standard Possession Order if you have an agreement to deviate from it. But first, let’s identify what an “agreement” should be. Make sure that you have any agreements to deviate from the Standard Possession Order in writing. For instance, if you are communicating through text, email or Family Wizard, make sure that it is clear that you are deviating from the Standard Possession Order. This is important for two reasons – one, it allows for specificity and neither party can say that this was not what was agreed upon; two, it prevents or assists the party if a Motion for Enforcement is filed so that the Court can see what the actual intent of the parties was at the time that they made the agreement. The bottom line is that, if both parents want to have this time with the kids, then reciprocity is key – you get one year and the other parent gets the next.

If you are in the middle of a case, consider the holidays that are important to you. Do you have any religious holidays that you want your kids to be a part of? Are there yearly family holidays that you want your kids to participate in? If you let the court know that these holidays are important to you, it is likely the court will allow you to have these times, just be aware that it is likely that the time that you get will likely also be given to the other parent, so that they don’t lose time with the kids.


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