HOLIDAYS WITH KIDS IN TWO HOMES
Holidays are generally a time love and family; however, this time can be very stressful and difficult, especially with children living between two homes.
There are some things parents can do to ease this process and hopefully create more peace for the parents and the kids around the holidays.
First, determine whether or not you have orders in place that dictate the holiday possession schedule.
Whether or not you currently have such orders in place, it is best to talk to the other parent or caregiver to discuss plans for the children for the holidays. If you are able to reach agreements for visitation and/or travel that works for your family, that is an ideal situation.
Most Court ordered Possession Schedules are written to allow the parents/conservators to reach agreements on visitation that deviate from the possession schedule set forth in your order to better fit into your family’s plans. Keep in mind that some parents/conservators are required by prior court order to communicate through a certain method or with a third party present. Do not violate your court orders.
Many times parents can work together to continue to celebrate holidays as they have done in the past – or create new traditions as a different family dynamic (i.e. Christmas Eve with one parent and Christmas Day with the other parent).
If you do have Orders in place, read them before meeting with the other parent. Be prepared to follow the orders if you are unable to reach a workable solution. If your current orders are unworkable, long term, you should seek advice of an experienced family law attorney who may be able to help you modify your orders to a more workable solution.
If you do not have orders in place, it is even more crucial to work with the other parent regarding holiday plans. It may be your first holiday to celebrate separately, and you may want to enlist the help of a mental health professional to assist you and the children with the transition in tradition. If you are not able to reach a solution, you need to contact an attorney immediately to try to resolve these issues before the holidays. Don’t wait until it is too late!
If you are traveling out of town –
And have current orders in place: check your orders for any requirements you may have to inform the other parent if you plan to travel out of town, out of state, or out of the country. Many orders require notice and/or consent before you can travel with your children. Make sure you are aware of these and comply with the terms of your orders.
And do not have Orders in place, but have filed a case (divorce, modification, paternity), local Standing Orders may be in place that restrict you from taking the children out of the state while a case is pending. If this is an issue, bring this to the attention of your attorney immediately. Your attorney can try to work with the other parent to allow you to continue with your plans, uninterrupted. Be aware that different counties have Standing Orders, and they may differ on this issue. Be sure you are in compliance.
In general, it is a good idea to let the other parent know of your travel arrangements with the children, even if there is no case pending or your current orders do not require it. You would want the same courtesy.
If you are acting under the Texas Family Code Standard Possession Order, your standard holiday visitation should be as follows:
Thanksgiving: Parent A has possession beginning after school on the day school is released for the holiday (even if this is the Friday before Thanksgiving), and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the Sunday following Thanksgiving.
Christmas: Parent B has possession beginning at the time school is released for the holiday, and ending at noon on December 28. Parent A has possession beginning at noon on December 28 and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the day before school resumes after the holiday.
Be sure to look at your child’s school calendar or the calendar for the public school your child would be zoned, to determine the actual days applied in your case. If you have any questions regarding your possession rights, contact an experienced family law attorney to help you interpret your orders.