The time of year when the heat of summer starts to fade and each morning is greeted with a light crisp coolness. The days become shorter and the thought of hot cocoa and wrapping up with your children in oversized comfy blankets sounds like the perfect way to end a holiday. That is, for some families; what about your family? To some, holidays are a scary thought because you or your children’s other parent might fight over who gets the child(ren) for a specific holiday in fear of “missing out” on all the warm fuzzies that the holidays bring.
No fear, in many state including Texas, the courts do right by laying out a Standard Access and Possession Order that outlines an entire section dedicated to holidays. A large portion of parent-child relationship orders, whether from a divorce or another custody matter, include standard holidays as part of the possession and access schedule regardless of what schedule the parties follow the rest of the year.
The most important concern for the court in laying out the holiday schedule is for the best interest of the child. A judge will decide the terms of a conservatorship, mostly with standard access and possession schedules, unless both parents can agree on a custody plan. These are the holidays included in the standard possession order found in the Texas Family Code:
- Spring Break
- Mother’s Day—2nd Sunday in May
- Father’s Day—2nd Sunday in June
- Independence Day—July 4th
- Halloween—Oct 31st
- Veterans Day—Nov 11th
- Thanksgiving—4th Thursday in Nov
- Christmas Eve—Dec 24th
- Christmas Day—Dec 25th
- Winter Break
- New Year’s Eve—Dec 31st
- New Year’s Day—Jan 1st
- Your child’s birthday
- Religious holidays
- Each parent’s birthday
- Other special occasions
If the parents can come to an agreement outside of the court or outside of the order, then all the better, as a divorce lawyer Arlington TX trusts can explain. Common ways that parents divide and share holiday time are having alternate holidays every other year. One parent for even years and one parent for odd years. This is in efforts to prevent a parent missing a holiday with their child more than one year in a row. Commonly the holiday is split in half. Meaning the child spends part of the day with each parent and an exchange is made at an agreed upon time. However, be sure to plan and coordinate so that the child isn’t spending the holiday traveling all day. A good way to avoid this is to assign fixed holidays. Each parent can celebrate the same set of holidays with the child each year. If the parents have different holidays that they wish to include, each parent can have those holidays every year.
Some holidays can be difficult to plan due to both parents usually wanting to spend a large amount of time with the child for the holiday. For instance, parents could share and divide these holidays. For the child’s birthday, have individual birthday parties or parents can schedule a short visit for whomever doesn’t have the child on the birthday. The same could go for the parents’ birthdays. For Thanksgiving usually one parent can have their child on Thanksgiving Day and the weekend goes to other parent. Both parents can have time on Thanksgiving and on the weekend, really any combination that is agreed upon. Last but not least is good ol’ Christmas. This holiday is usually the most argued upon holiday that parents disagree over unfortunately. Christmas carries such a sense of nostalgia and can create lifetime memories which is what every parents aims for. It’s the reason we decorate the tree with an abundance of gifts and make sure every little thing is in place on Christmas morning. When it comes to having to share this holiday it’s not always easy because one parent will miss out on that pivotal moment of seeing their child’s face as the lay eyes upon the tree and all its glory. Here is a way to divide the time: One parent will have Christmas Eve and the other parent can have Christmas Day or an alternative is that one parent can have Christmas entirely and the other will take winter break. In addition, you can roll in New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day into one holiday and alternate. All in all, what the parents can agree on, keeping in mind of what’s best for the child, will always be the best choice. Each family is different and should work together to find a solution so that everyone can enjoy the holidays collectively.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC for their insight into family law and child custody.