Summer Possession: Making Plans and Giving Notice
April Deadlines for Summer Possession
In Texas, visitation with children is referred to as the time of possession and access with the child. Do you have a court-ordered parenting plan with a set schedule for possession and access of and with the children? Many people use a Standard Possession Schedule Order. A Standard Possession Schedule allows both parents to have possession of the children whenever both co-parents agree.
However, when the parents do not agree on when each will exercise their possession time, and they cannot flexibly agree on schedules, the Standard Possession Schedule Order applies and the parents should follow what is stated in their order. Note that some parents may have a custom possession and access schedule which also allows for one on one discussion and exchange of possession times.
Summer Possession is what we call the extended period of time the non-primary parent has possession with the child during the summer, and the standard order designates July as the time of possession for the non-primary parent. The standard order designates 30 days of extended possession to parents who live within 100 miles of the other parent. Co-parents living more than 100 miles apart use a longer extended time of 42 days, as set forth in the standard order.
Avoiding Enforcement Actions for Standard Holiday Possession
Whether your divorce is still pending or you are already divorced and co-parenting, Summer Possession plans that fall apart can lead to enforcement actions in court. When making plans for Summer Possession we may be booking camping trips, airline flights, and vacation rentals. When we are locked into a fixed schedule we rely on the other parent to honor their commitments.
Here’s a Great Summer Camp List: Summer Camps in Texas
Sometimes, despite best efforts, and without intention to cause problems, plans can fall apart. Before we run to court, it is best to work together and negotiate a resolution to Summer Possession planning issues. We can help you at the Barrows Firm if you have a trip planned and need to resolve a co-parenting conflict.
Giving Written Notice of Summer Plans
Making plans for the summer can be easy when you keep organized and on top of busy schedules in the family. Challenges in creating schedules that work for everyone involved means spotting conflicts in advance and being flexible to changes in plans. There are plenty of situations in which outside factors influence schedules and plans beyond our control. For example, if the other parent wants to make Summer Possession Plans for July 15 through August 15 and then they notified they have a work responsibility making it impossible to exercise their extended possession as planned.
The problem with making plans is that people rely on those plans, sometimes to their detriment. If the other parent makes plans with you and has to break them, they fall back on the default provision in their possession schedule.
Giving written notice is required for parents who want to exercise Summer Possession outside the dates stated in their order, assuming one exists. If there ends up being a problem with Summer Possession Plans and an enforcement action occurs, the judge will likely ask to see the written notice sent, communicating Summer Possession plans. The notice must be given before the deadlines of April 1st for non-custodial parents and April 15th for custodial parents.
Sometimes as kids get older they don’t want to spend a whole month with the non-custodial parent. Read this Reddit post and comments about co-parenting and Summer Possession as the kids get older: My kids don't want to spend the entire summer with me, my ex insists that I should take them.
April 1st Written Notice Deadline for Non-Custodial Parents
If you are the non-custodial (non-primary) parent and you want to make Summer Possession Plans for your 30 or 42 days you must provide written notice to the custodial (primary) parent by April 1. If your notice is given on time, before the expiration of the deadline, you have the option of splitting up your extended Summer Possession time into two periods of at least seven days each.
When non-custodial parents give Summer Possession notice, they must select times during summer vacation from school. The operable timeframe includes the day after school is dismissed for summer recess and seven days prior to the beginning of the next school year in the fall.
Question: Oh no! I missed the April 1st deadline, what happens?
Answer: You fall back on the Standard Possession Schedule Order and July is your extended month.
April 15th Written Notice Deadline for Custodial Parents
If you are the custodial (primary) parent and you share time of possession with the other parent using a Standard Possession Schedule Order, you may choose a weekend and an extended week of Summer Possession. After the other parent’s deadline to notify you of their Summer Possession plans, you can choose your extra weekend and extended week. Note that the extended week cannot take place during the other parent’s extended possession, which is why these deadlines fall in order, 15 days apart.
What Happens if You Do Not Give Written Notice of Summer Plans
If by chance you fail to give notice to the other parent by the April 1 or 15 deadlines, the Texas Family Code says that whatever is stated in your possession schedule is what controls on summer possession issues. If you have no standard order in place, you have nothing to worry about. However, if the standard order is part of your custody and possession order, July will be your month to have the extra 30 or 42 days with your child. Note, where notice was not given, you cannot split time and your 30 days run consecutively.
Additionally, you are not required to use every single available Summer Possession day, but you should! Parents and children have little time to bond and enjoy adventures and growing up before graduation day comes, and it comes quickly. Also, Summer Possession Plans cannot trump the previously identified dad’s time during Father’s day.
Call the Barrows Firm for Help with Deadlines for Summer Possession (817) 481-1583.
At the Barrows Firm, we understand that despite all the hard work negotiating what seems to be the perfect schedule for possession and access, things can change. When kids grow older and when parents get re-married and introduce new people to the family, conflict can arise quickly.
A custom parenting plan with a possession and access schedule that works for you and your family may handle Summer Possession Plans in a way that works for everyone involved. Call us at the Barrows Firm in Southlake at (817) 481-1583 for help with custody and visitation issues including Summer Possession plans and enforcement or modification actions if you believe that will prevent future problems with scheduling possession and access during summer vacation.