Texas Family Code section 153.314. Holiday Possession Unaffected by Distance Parents Reside Apart: How Does Winter Possession Work?

How does the default possession schedule work in the family code for winter break?

As school is letting out for the holidays families under new possession orders may be wondering how exactly December and January are going to work for them. The Texas Family Code presumes that a certain holiday possession schedule is in the best interest of children in section 153.314. This possession is something that has not always been the default in Texas so it may not sound exactly like what people are used to doing for holiday possession in the past. As of now, the family code allows for one parent to have possession of the child from the time that the child is dismissed from school for winter break (or at the time the public school district that the child lives in dismisses from school if the child is not in school for whatever reason) until December 28th at noon. The other parent shall have possession of the child from noon on December 28th until 6 p.m. on the day before school resumes at the end of winter break. This set up flips back and forth between parents each year with one parent having the first half of the break during even years and the second half of the break during odd years and the other parent having the first half during odd years and the second half during even years.

What does that look like using a real school district’s schedule?

This winter possession supersedes any Thursday or weekend possession that a person is ordered. For example, if your children lived in Forney ISD and you were under a standard possession schedule as is presumed to be in the best interest of your child under the family code, when Forney ISD lets out of school on December 22, 2017, for winter break, the child would go with whichever parent has the odd-numbered year possession under the order. On December 28th at noon the child would go to stay with their other parent until January 7th at 6:00 p.m., which is the day before the child is to go back to school at the end of winter break. After this, the child would go back to whatever schedule the parents usually follow for possession and access.

What if we agree to do something different?

 With all of this said, most court orders state that this visitation schedule is only to be used if the parents can’t agree on a possession schedule for their children. If there is something that works better for your family that you all agree on then that is something that you should follow. The default provisions in the family code are meant to be fallbacks to keep the peace for people who are unable to work together on possession and access.

What if my order doesn’t say this or I don’t have an order?

If you have an older order or an order that varies from the default, this all doesn’t apply to you. If you don’t have an order at all and you are having trouble agreeing on when the child should be visiting each parent, it may be time to contact an attorney and get something in writing. If you have any questions about a current possession and access order or if you need help getting started in the process of getting an order contact Guest and Gray and we can set up a time to speak with you and let you know what your options are.