Ah, the joy of the holidays. Good food, great memories, and family traditions.
It might be your family tradition to spend Thanksgiving morning doing the Turkey Trot – followed by fried turkey at grandma’s house.
It might be your family tradition to spend Christmas Eve at a candlelight church service and then waking up before the crack of dawn to exchange presents.
Or maybe your holiday tradition is to travel to New York to watch the Macy’s Day Parade.
But this year…things are different. And things are different because you are now separated from your spouse and your thoughts immediately turn to the new traditions your children are going to have to get used to because of your impending divorce. What will happen to our traditions if we decide to go through with a divorce? What will happen to my time with the kids if we have court ordered periods of possession? And do I have any control over what happens?
The short answer is that it depends. When parents divorce in Texas, they have two options: Reach an agreement with their estranged spouse or have the Judge determine who gets to spend what time with the children.
If parents are able to reach an agreement, the Judge will approve the parent’s agreement as long as the agreement doesn’t violate the law – and this can be used to maintain family traditions that are important to you. However, as our Dallas collaborative divorce attorneys can tell you, if you and your estranged spouse cannot reach an agreement, the Judge is very limited with what they can do with regard to possession over the holidays. In fact, the Texas Family Code details out what a Judge can do with regard to Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve if the parties cannot reach an agreement.
Thanksgiving: One parent gets to be with the child from the day the child gets dismissed from school for Thanksgiving vacation until the Sunday after Thanksgiving. This schedule alternates every year between the parents. So one year dad gets Thanksgiving week and the next year mom gets Thanksgiving week.
Christmas and New Year’s Eve: One parent gets to be with the child from the day the child gets dismissed from school for Christmas vacation until December 28th at noon (i.e. both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day). The other parent gets the child from noon on the 28th until the day before school resumes after the holiday (i.e. New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day). This schedule alternates every year as well.
Bottom line is this … if you want to come up with a specialized possession schedule that fits your needs and your traditions – you need to reach an agreement with your estranged spouse. Otherwise, the judge will give you a set schedule that leaves you only spending the actual holiday with your kids every other year! Contact Goranson Bain, PLLC, to learn how our Dallas family law lawyers can help.