Holidays are often a time of great emotion, whether joy, excitement, stress or even sadness after a loss. During a divorce, the unknowns surrounding possession of the children on holidays can be cause for heightened emotional responses. Many people wonder what will happen with the children on the holidays they most cherish. Holiday possession can certainly be provided for, whether through a Standard Possession Order, or by agreement.
Parents going through a divorce may make agreements regarding the possession schedule for their children. Agreeing on the possession schedule can be beneficial during a divorce as it allows the parents to schedule periods of possession that work well with the children’s schedules and the parents’ schedules. Parents may agree that one parent will have the actual day of the holiday and the other parent will have the night before. Parents may also agree that one parent may have the morning of the holiday and one parent may have the evening. For example, parents may agree that one parent has possession of the children during the showing of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade through lunchtime, and then the other parent will have possession of the children on Thanksgiving from lunchtime through the evening. If a particular holiday is more important to one parent than another, the parents may agree that they will each take the holidays important to them. By way of example, one parent may celebrate Independence Day each year with a family party, and the other parent always celebrates New Year’s Day, so the parents each agree to the other having the holidays they have always held dear.
If parents cannot agree on a possession schedule for the holidays, it may be necessary to have a hearing so that the Court can make the decision for them. The parents may request a hearing so that the Court can make Temporary Orders that will govern the possession schedule in the absence of an agreement. The process for scheduling and appearing for hearings varies by county and court, so it is important to consult with an attorney to find out how the court presiding over a case schedules and hears these requests.
Standard Possession Order
When parents do not agree on a possession schedule, the legal presumption in Texas is that the parents will operate under the Standard Possession Order in the Texas Family Code. The Standard Possession Order provides for some, but not all holidays families may celebrate. The Standard Possession Order alternates holiday possession in even and odd years, attempting to balance out the holiday time for parents and children. However, this means that in some years a parent may not have possession of a child from the time school is released for winter break through December 28, or the parent may not have possession of a child during the child’s Thanksgiving Break.
It is important to remember that a divorce can be a stressful and emotional event for both the parents and the children. To preserve holiday spirit for the children, parents can work to put the best interests of their children in the spotlight and not involve the child in parental disputes. Parents can also use this transition period to create new traditions and can celebrate over several days rather than just the day or days of the holiday itself.
Consult with a Dallas Family Law Attorney
If you have questions about this article or a family law case, contact the divorce and child custody lawyers at Epstein Family Law at 972-232-7673 to consult with a skilled Dallas family law attorney. We handle divorce and child custody cases in counties throughout the Greater Dallas area, including Dallas, Collin, Denton, Tarrant, Ellis, Rockwall, Kaufman, Johnson, Grayson, plus other counties throughout Texas.