Most divorced parents in the state of Texas follow by the Texas Family Code standard possession order. This schedule is quite detailed and the provisions in it typically apply to both of the parents, as well as any children involved. If the non-custodial parent wants to spend time with a child or children during the summer, April 1st is an important date. Any non-custodial and parent who lives 100 miles or less from the children, must, by April 1st of every year, specify in writing his or her intention to spend time with the children during the upcoming summer.

 Custody vs. Conservatorship

In Texas family courts, the term “custody” is not used to describe the legal relationship between a child and his or her parents. Instead, the word “conservatorship” is used. While it seems like a more formal term, conservatorship does not have the implication that custody tends to have. The term conservatorship focuses more on children as people, rather than treating them like inanimate pieces of property. Therefore, there is typically a managing (custodial) and a possessory (non-custodial) conservator in each situation. The managing conservator essentially manages everyday decisions for the child, while the possessory conservator only enjoys right to visitation with the child.

 The Standard Possession Order

Judges will create a Standard Possession Order (SPO) so that it reflects the best interest of a child. The SPO outlines the rights of the parent who does not have the child living with him or her all of the time. For example, a SPO would specify when the possessory conservator can go to the managing conservator’s house and pick up the child and bring the child to his or her own house (100 miles or less from the custodial parent’s residence). The SPO would outline rights for weekends, school breaks, weekends with extended holidays, and spring break.

 Written Notice by April 1

During summers, Texas specifies that the possessory conservator who lives 100 miles or less from the managing conservator will have possession and access to the child or children on July 1 from 6 p.m. to July 31 at 6 p.m. If the possessory conservator lives over 100 miles away from where the managing conservator lives, the summer possession period starts on June 15th at 6 p.m. and goes through July 27 at 6 p.m. This scheduled time can be changed, as long as written notice is provided by April 1.

If the possessory conservator wants to have rights to his or her child or children outside of those hours or for a different period of time during the summer, he or she must submit written notice to the managing conservator before April 1. If written notice is not provided before April 1, that parent will relinquish the right to possession and access of the child or children outside of the specified period of time. Written notice can include email and fax notice, but texting does not count as proper notice.

As experienced Texas family attorneys, we understand it can be difficult to remember dates like this. So, be sure to mark your calendar so that you can spend the time you want with your children during the summer. Contact us today if you need legal guidance with your family law issues.