Spring and Summer give parents time to reconnect and bond with their children, especially after divorce.  If you share custody of your children, chances are you need to begin planning for your summer possession periods.  At The Ramage Law Group, we have an office in Frisco and McKinney, Texas staffed with child custody attorneys working with several clients on this very matter due to a lack of shared time over the recent holiday.  Maybe it is time for you to also review your current order and fight for more time?

Where to Start?

The first place to start is your most recent custody order, whether it is your divorce decree or an order modifying your divorce decree.  First, weekend possession continues during the summer, except when each parent is enjoying extended visitation with the children.  If you have a Texas Standard Possession Order and are the non-custodial parent, you will need to give notice to the other parent of a thirty-day period in which you plan to exercise summer possession of your children.  If you fail to give notice, your summer possession period defaults to the month of July.  The custodial parent may then take a weekend from your extended summer visitation period by notifying you on or before April 15 of his desired weekend.  Additionally, the custodial parent may also designate a weekend that is outside of your summer visitation during which you may not exercise visitation, so long as it does not interfere with Father’s Day weekend of a party’s designated summer possession.

This probably sounds confusing, right?  The purpose of the extended summer periods in a possession schedule is to provide children and their parents extended vacation time, provided no parent is going weeks without seeing the children.  Because the Standard Possession Order can be confusing, many families elect to vary the possession period in the summer, with each parent taking a two-week vacation with the children, or the parents exercising a week-on-week of schedule.  If in doubt, read your order to understand what your rights are during the summer and what your obligations are for notice.  If you have a custom possession order that works for you and your children, that is great!  Just follow it.

Do You Have to Follow the Order?

Yes, unless both parties are in complete agreement not to.  All possession orders start with a statement that recognizes that the parents can make mutual agreements that are different from the order and that the order is followed when there is no a mutual agreement.  It is best to follow the order if you cannot reach agreements.  So, if your order gives you thirty days with your child in the summer, it is best to exercise all your possession.  However, from a co-parenting standpoint, you may want to consider working with the other parent to adjust times that work for both parents and the children.  Look to the motive of the other parent’s request to change summer possession times.  Is it about the children and their activities?  If so, finding a workable solution so the children can spend equal time with both parents during the summer is ideal.  Is the motive behind the request to interfere with your relationship with your child?  If so, stick to the schedule.

Summer is for Children

Childhood fades fast and the days for play time and no worries will give way to adult responsibilities.  Let your children have a childhood and a summer.  Co-parents should cooperate in scheduling camps, family vacations, sporting activities, and amusement park trips.  If your child is in a sport and has a major competition in the summer during your visitation period, take your child to his competition.  After all, it is your child’s time – not yours.  And, by refusing to help your child enjoy his activities, you are damaging your relationship with your child.  Summer activities, whether with family or friends, lead to memories that last a lifetime.  Spend quality time with your child this summer and help him make those memories!

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