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Holiday Possession Schedules: Check Your Court Order

Leslie Barrows
 | Published: 
November 25, 2020
 | Category: 
Child Custody

Standard Possession Orders in Texas

The Texas Standard Possession Order sets the family’s calendar for time of possession and access for the primary parent and the non-primary parent with visitation time. In Texas family law, child custody orders refer to parenting time, calling it possession and access which essentially means the same thing as visitation. The Standard Possession Order incorporated into your custody agreement is the schedule you and the other parent can rely upon for parenting times. Many co-parents like the Standard Possession Order, especially over the holidays, because the time between parents is distributed and uses alternating odd and even-numbered years to equalize holiday time with children.

In some custody cases, parents come to agree upon a customized schedule that works, incorporating some or all the Standard Possession Order schedules. Additionally, if you both agree as parents to do your own thing and informally trade days as it may be fair, then everyone wins.

If you have any questions about your holiday possession schedules for the 2020 Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks, please check your court order to determine who has the children, and when. Southlake Family Law Attorney Leslie Barrows is always available to help you.

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Consider First the Best Interests of the Children

Few people in the world say that 2020 was a banner year, and for many, some constant challenges and setbacks can make Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays even bumpier than in years without a COVID-19 pandemic, restrictions, virtual school, limitations on activities, and so forth. At the end of the day, we all hope that life gets as close to what we used to consider normal. In the meantime, as parents we only have one chance to raise our children with love and security, giving them the best chances in life. And in 2020, if it means making compromises and different choices, it is important to put the best interests of children first, when wrestling with holiday possession schedules.

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Thanksgiving Visitation for 2020

Standard Possession Orders alternate parenting time on Thanksgiving between odd and even years. During an odd-numbered year, the noncustodial parent has possession of the children over Thanksgiving. Since 2020 is an even-numbered year, the primary, custodial parent has possession of the children for Thanksgiving.

The beginning of Thanksgiving possession begins at 6:00 p.m. on the day school is dismissed for the break, continuing through 6:00 p.m. on the following Sunday or Monday depending on what is stated in the order. If you have extended possession time, Monday is the end of your Thanksgiving break with the children.

Christmas Visitation for 2020

For Christmas, our Standard Possession Orders split the break into two, divided like Thanksgiving, based on even and odd-numbered years. During those odd-numbered years, the primary custodial parent has the right to possession of the children from the day school is dismissed, until noon on December 28th. At that time, the non-custodial parent has the right to visitation with the children beginning at noon on the 28th, and through 6:00 p.m. the day before school resumes, or on the day school starts again if the parent has extended possession time.

Since 2020 is an even year, the non-custodial parent has visitation time with the children for the first part of Christmas break, until noon on the 28th, and then the primary custodial parent has the right to possession for the remainder of Christmas Break and until school starts again after the break.

What Happens When Schools Dismiss Children Early?

With COVID-19, schools may be announcing earlier dismissal days, at least for Thanksgiving. Some schools went to virtual school for some time before this year’s Thanksgiving week off. The question then becomes, if the school dismissal times change, do I still pick my child up at 6 p.m. or at the time school is dismissed? Attorney Leslie Barrows notes that the Barrows Firm receives these questions, and Leslie reminds us to check our current court order.

Many local Independent School Districts announced early dismissal days this year and just like other elements of our lives and schedules, this year many will need to adjust their schedules based on what schools are doing, and then reconcile that among co-parents.

Having Problems Agreeing on Holiday Possession Schedules for 2020?

With the decreased likelihood of significant travel this year, based on COVID-19 concerns and recommended restrictions, more families might be spending Thanksgiving and Christmas at home and enjoying the time of others virtually. Some say it might not be so bad saying hello to a few people for some time on Zoom, or a family phone call. In some families, this might be a saving grace for some who with a smile on their face, quietly dread the stress of the holidays.

Regardless of what families plan, things can always change last minute. If for some reason you do not get the time with your children you expect, you have plenty of options to make up that time. For example, missed holiday time could be added to another holiday or spring or summer break.

Need the Court to Intervene? That Can Also be an Option

Despite the best efforts at co-parenting and being flexible, especially during 2020, there are some family events and holiday celebrations that are unique and worth asking your judge to rule. It all depends on the facts in your situation, whether you will be successful with a trip to court on your holiday possession schedule. One example may be international or long-distance domestic travel. If your parents are coming to visit you and your family from far away, you might not want to compromise. Especially in 2020, some families are deciding not to fly and are driving long road trips to see family.

Call the Barrows Firm if you have a difficult situation with holiday possession schedules and need legal advice and representation. Sometimes getting the lawyers involved can be effective and your problems can be resolved by a special agreement outside of going to court. That said, if you do need to get on the Court’s Docket, the earliest you contact your lawyer, the better.

Everyone here at the Barrows Firm in Southlake Wishes You All a Happy Thanksgiving and a Merry Christmas! We Are Here for You if You Need Us (817) 481-1583