School is wrapping up and summer is just around the corner. Many divorced and blended families are now looking at their summer plans and scratching their heads trying to figure out who has which kid when. Texas summer possession orders can be confusing because they build in some flexibility through notice requirements and discretionary possession periods. The summer possession periods are generally referred to as "extended summer possession" in the order.
- Look at the April 1st "Written Notice": Most possession orders have an option allowing the "non-primary" parent to designate up to 30 days as theirs during the summer. This visitation can be broken up into 2 parts. The non-primary parent does not have to use all 30 days, and the 30 days do not have to be used all at the same time. Was the April notice timely? Most orders use an April 1 deadline for this designation. If missed, the Texas Standard Possession Order generally gives the entire month of July to the non-primary parent. But watch out: some orders allow extended summer designations as long as the non-primary parent gives a certain amount of advance notice.
- Is there an April 15th Notice? 30 days of possession is a long time for any child to be away from a parent. Because of this, the Standard Possession Order generally gives the primary parent the chance to pick one weekend out of those 30 days to "interrupt" the non-primary parent's extended summer visit.
- Primary Parent's Extended Summer Possession: The parent with whom the child lives throughout the school year also gets a chance to have a summer vacation period with the child. That parent gets to designate one weekend during which a regular 1st/3rd/5th weekend visit does not occur. Keep in mind that the "primary" parent cannot override Father's Day or the other parent's extended summertime visitation. If the non-primary parent did not give notice by April 1 (meaning that all of July goes to that parent), then the primary parent's extended Texas summer possession is likely limited to the first two weeks of June or the first two weeks of August.
- Father's Day Weekend: Almost all possession orders give Father's Day Weekend to the father. This weekend adds to the father's possession. It does not replace or trade a weekend period of possession. In some cases, this could mean that a father gets three weekends in a row, or it could be that Father's Day Weekend is on a weekend where the father already has possession of his children. Regardless, Father's Day possession generally trumps other possession periods because it is considered a holiday possession period.
Hopefully these pointers help your summer go smoothly. If you have any questions about your Texas summer possession schedule, call the Fort Worth Family Law Attorneys at Gardner & Smith.