Holidays are a social time, a time when most families try to appreciate the warmth and closeness the season brings. In divorced families with children, this effort is often strained, even with the best intentions – and despite having legal, documented visitation rules. If visitation and custody concerns have arisen or worsened over this holiday season, it may be time to discuss the situation with a divorce attorney or child custody lawyer.

Texas Laws on Child Custody and the Holidays

To help parents avoid problems with visitation over the holidays, the Texas Family Court provides a schedule to follow, unless other arrangements are jointly made and agreed upon by both parents. This schedule dictates that from the time that school lets out for holiday break, through the evening of December 28, one parent has custody. Then, from the evening of December 28th to the time school resumes, the other parent has custody.

The schedule is based on odd/even years, with the primary conservator having custody over the first half of the holiday break in even-numbered years, and the non-primary conservator having custody over the first half in odd-numbered years. With this plan, parents can alternate custody over Christmas and New Years, with each parent getting equal time with children throughout the holiday break.

This is a generalized, assumed custody schedule designed to help families fairly deal with custody during the holidays, but other custody plans that have been written into divorce and custody agreements take precedence. In either case, if one parent does not live up to their part of a holiday custody agreement, this is considered a breach of that agreement.

Changes to Holiday Custody Provisions

Often, one or both parents wish to change this assumed holiday possession schedule, or even their documented one, for any number of reasons. Normally, as long as both parents are in agreement, this is fine. To avoid problems, any agreed upon change in holiday possession plans should still be documented so should any problems arise after the fact, the initial plan that was agreed upon can be used as a reference. It is easy to assume that in the spirit of the holiday both parents will want to be fair in sticking to any pre-determined plan; but unfortunately, things do not always happen this way. Writing out a plan makes any agreement real, and also provides legal recourse should it become necessary.

When Holiday Custody Goes Awry

If possession schedules were a problem during holiday break this year, and custody was a source of more stress, rather than one of happiness with parents able to spend time with their children, it may be time to speak to a divorce attorney, or child custody lawyer. Custody and possession rules exist for a reason. Even if both parents agreeably modify a schedule, custody disputes can occur. When one parent refuses to abide by a custody schedule, or any agreed upon and documented change, they could face legal penalties.

In the State of Texas, family law covering custody and possession over the winter holiday break, exists to help parents and children enjoy time together. When custody disputes interfere, it can have an effect on everyone – including the children. If possession schedules were a problem over the holidays this year, or parents have questions or concerns about their parenting schedules, the best advice is to discuss it with a child custody lawyer or divorce attorney. Hopefully, by the time the holiday season arrives next year, these type of problems can be avoided!

Garza & Elizondo, LLP

Downtown Brownsville
680 East St. Charles St, Suite 600
Brownsville TX 78520
(979) 202-0067

North Brownsville
1393 East Alton Gloor Blvd, Suite 12
Brownsville TX 78526
(979) 202-0067

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