Understanding the Summer Visitation Language of the Texas Family Code
When summer is just around the corner, many divorced parents are looking forward to summer plans with their children. However, summer visitation schedules can be confusing due to the unique regulations included in the Texas Family Code.
Here are a few key guidelines to keep in mind as you formulate your summer possession schedule.
What is a managing conservator?
A managing conservator is a parent who has been given the court-ordered care, custody, and control of a child. In Texas, most parents are joint managing conservators. These parents share the rights and duties to determine and participate in the child’s health, education, welfare, and to confer with the other parent regarding these issues.
Both parents are entitled to the child’s medical, dental, psychological. and educational records, and to confer with the professionals that are part of the child’s life.
There are times when the joint managing conservators do not have equal rights. Only one of the parents can determine the primary residence for the child. One of the two parents are given the right to determine the primary residence for the child. That parent is the managing conservator and the other parent is the possessory conservator.
From time to time, one parent is designated as the sole managing conservator. As sole managing conservator, this parent has exclusive right to designate the primary residence for the child and may have all or some of the rights discussed above.
What is a possessory conservator?
A possessory conservator is the parent that does not have the right to designate the primary residence for the child. They may have standard visitation, expanded visitation, or fifty-fifty possession. They may or may not share joint decision making for the child.
How much time do I have to submit a summer visitation schedule?
The possessory conservator has to provide a written notice of their selected vacation days by April 1st, but some final orders designate other days. Check your Divorce Decree or Final Order in Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship or Final Order in Suit to Modify the Parent-Child Relationship.
Written notice can be a letter, or any other electronic communication. As a practical tip, make sure that it is in writing and that you can prove the notice was sent and when it was sent. Do not send it with the child to the other parent.
If the deadline is missed, the possessory conservator will not be able to choose which days they get to visit the child without the managing conservator’s agreement. Instead, the entire month of July, beginning on July 1st at 6:00 PM and ending July 31st at 6:00 PM is designated, by statute. Some orders allow for extended summer designations as long as the non-primary parent gives advance notice. Other parents can co-parent well enough to agree on non-statutory arrangements.
There are limitations to which dates can be chosen. For example, the possessory conservator cannot choose the day prior to the official school final day or the last 7 days before school begins. Days that cannot be elected will follow the normal schedule.
What days can I select as the possessory conservator?
As the possessory conservator you can elect 30 consecutive days for your summer vacation or you can break it up into no more than two periods of time. If you choose to break it up into two periods, then each period of time must be at least 7 consecutive days.
In the periods chosen by the possessory conservator, the managing conservator can choose any one weekend from Friday at 6:00 pm until Sunday at 6:00 pm to take the child for a weekend, provided that the managing conservator picks up the child and returns the child to the possessory conservator.
If you live more than 100 miles apart, you choose 42 days during the summer for visitation. If you don’t select any days then you would get June 15th until July 27th.
If you elect less than 30 days in a row then the managing conservator can choose any 1 weekend. If you elect 30 days or more in a row then the managing conservator can choose 2 weekends. However, the weekends cannot be in a row.
If your summer days overlap a “regular” weekend then that weekend becomes a summer election. However, you keep the 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekends during summer.
You can maximize your time by beginning your summer possession before or after your normal possession time.
What days can I select as the managing conservator?
As the managing conservator, you have to choose your weekend selections by April 15th. Again, this needs to be in writing, or via electronic communication that shows the time and date on which it was sent. Also, some final orders have different dates, so be sure to check your latest order.
If you miss the deadline, you will still get possession time but you won’t get the weekend(s) during the possessory conservator’s period of possession. As managing conservator, you can elect days of the possessory conservator’s regular time. This time can be used in one block of time or can be broken up into two blocks of time.
In order to maximize your time, you can “bookend” weekend vacation days. This is done by choosing one extended summer weekend and choosing one regular weekend, thereby providing a block of vacation time.
You can pick 2 weekends, one regular and one summer, that belong to the possessory conservator. They will also responsible for picking up and returning the child to the same place.
Father’s Day and Mother’s Day
Unless otherwise designated in the final orders, the parent not in possession of the child on Father’s day and Mother’s day has from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm, provided that the parent not in possession of the child on Father’s day picks up and returns the child to the parent in possession. As a practical matter, most decrees and final orders strive to give the Father and the Mother the weekend possession on these days.
The parent not in possession of the child on the child’s birthday has from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm, provided that the parent not in possession of the child on the child’s birthday picks up and returns the child to the parent in possession.
Texas Summer Possession Schedules Can Be Very Confusing
Learn more about the requirements needed for summer visitation schedules in the video below. Remember, this is the standard schedule as it is written in the Texas family code. Some orders do not follow the standard schedule.
For more information, contact Vaught Law Firm, P.C. for a consultation today.