Holidays can become stressful for divorced families with child custody agreements in effect.
Child custody lawyers know that it is natural for both parents to want to have the kids for holiday visiting and family time; however, holiday time must be divided up like all other times according to the custody order and general schedule already agreed upon.
While it is possible to request modifications to the custody order if a pre-planned schedule is not working out, lawyers recommend doing your best to compromise so that each parent has equal time with the kids by alternating holidays whenever possible.A Holiday Cust
Negotiating Holiday Visitation
In most cases, parents sharing custody in Texas can come up with their own holiday child custody agreement as long as they are both in agreement about visitation days and times and the plan works out in the best interest of the children.
Consider these negotiation points as both spouses and their custody lawyers strive to come up with an acceptable holiday visitation schedule that works for both while still keeping the interest of the children in the forefront:
- Alternating Holidays - Alternate holidays throughout the year and in subsequent years, such as if one parent has the kids for Christmas this year and the other has them for Thanksgiving, switch that for the coming year to be fair.
- Split Holiday Time - When important holidays fall over multiple days, split one day with one parent and one day with the other or daytime with one parent and nighttime with the other.
- Assigned Holidays - Create a schedule of fixed holiday visits to follow if that works better for everyone so there is no question as to where the kids will be on which holiday.
With compromise and a willingness to work together in coming up with a fair holiday visitation plan, parents and children can all enjoy family holidays without disagreements about visitation.
As long as both parents can work together in this way, it may be possible to make modifications to holiday visitation plans as necessary as long as both parents get the desired visitation time.
Texas Standard Holiday Visitation Schedule
When holiday visitation over Christmas and Thanksgiving becomes a problem due to disagreement, child custody lawyers will usually recommend referring to the Texas Standard Possession Order (SPO) as it pertains to holiday visitation.
According to the SPO, child custody agreements must rely on the standard visitation schedule outlined in the Texas Family Code:
- Custodial Parents - Have possession of children during odd-numbered years starting at 6 PM after school dismissal for the Christmas holiday, continuing through the holiday until noon on December 28 when kids are allowed to visit the non-custodial parent and from that point on, the normal visitation schedule continues.
- Non-Custodial Parents - Have possession of children during even-numbered years starting at 6 PM after school dismissal for the Christmas holiday, continuing through the holiday until noon on December 28 when kids are to be returned to the custodial parent and from that point on, the normal visitation schedule continues.
- Thanksgiving - Whichever parent does not have possession for Christmas gets possession for the Thanksgiving holiday.
- Distances and Existing Schedules - The standard visitation schedule for holidays overrules any conflicting Thursday or weekend visitation schedules or conflicts and is also valid regardless of the distance between custodial and non-custodial parents.
Plan Now For Happy Holiday Visitation
Whether you and your spouse have already come up with a custody agreement that includes holiday visitation or need the help of a child custody lawyer to do so, plan out the upcoming holidays now so any bumps in the road can be addressed.
The easier it is to agree on a holiday visitation schedule, the happier the holidays will be for all involved family members.
Should your plans require an official child custody modification for holiday visitation or the standard visitation schedule must be enforced, the sooner your lawyer can get that worked out. the better for everyone involved.