With April 15 approaching, Texas divorced parents have more than taxes on their mind. If your divorce decree incorporates the Texas Family Code Standard Possession Order, April means it is time to designate your summer possession schedule. This month, I keep a laminated bound copy of the Standard Possession Order front and center at my desk. How to read it is another matter.
Here is how the Summer works under the Texas Family Code Standard Possession Order:
Thursday Possession Goes Away.
Once school is dismissed for summer vacation, the Possessory Parent’s Thursday possession goes away.
Weekend Possession Stays the Same, But Now Ends Sunday 6pm.
If you have an expanded Standard Possession Order, then Sunday overnight possession goes away in the Summer and Weekend possession ends at 6pm on Sunday. Otherwise, we start with the premise that Weekend possession remains the same during the Summer, with the only change for Father’s Day, which is setting up for Weekends being taken away during either parent’s Extended Summer Possession.
Start by mapping out Weekends on a 3-month calendar for June, July and August. Note the date school is dismissed for the Summer. Note the date school resumes after the Summer. Go to the week before school resumes and fill in each day with the regular school possession schedule. Now, for all the remaining weekends in June, July and August, put in your regular Weekend schedule, Fridays to Sundays. You will see that we now do Summer with the kids at the Primary Residence Parent’s during the week and at the Possessory Parent’s during the weekend.
Dad Always Gets Father’s Day Weekend.
Mark Father’s Day weekend on the calendar as Dad’s possession.
Possessory Parent Designates Extended Summer Possession First.
Summer is makeup time for the Possessory Parent, and that is why the Possessory Parent always designates their Extended Summer Possession first every year. The Possessory Parent gets to choose 30 consecutive days (if residing within 100 miles of the primary residence) or 42 consecutive days (if residing more than 100 miles of the primary residence), which can be exercised all in one period or divided into two periods of not less than seven days.
The Possessory Parent must designate their Extended Summer Possession dates by April 1st of each year. But don’t worry. If you do not designate your own dates by April 1st, then you automatically get Extended Summer Possession from July 1 – July 31 (if residing more than 100 miles of the primary residence) or from June 15-July 27 (if residing more than 100 miles of the primary residence).
Mark the calendar with the Possessory Parent’s Extended Summer Possession dates; these overrule the otherwise regular Weekends, so you can erase those.
Primary Residence Parent Gets to Take Away One of Those Weekends.
30 days is a long time away from a parent, so the Standard Possession Order gives the Primary Residence Parent the right to see the kids any one weekend of the Possessory Parent’s Extended Summer Possession block, as long as the kids are picked up and returned wherever they are with the Possessory Parent. If a Possessory Parent living more than 100 miles from the primary residence designates more than 30 days for Extended Summer Possession, then the Primary Residence Parent gets to take away 2 non-consecutive weekends.
If you want to do this, then you must designate the weekend you are going to take the kids by April 15. If you do not designate by April 15, you lose the right to see your kids on a weekend during the other parent’s summer vacation time.
Mark the calendar with the Primary Residence Parent’s Summer Weekend Possession; this weekend is now the Primary Residence Parent’s weekend.
Now Primary Residence Parent Gets to Schedule Their Extended Summer Possession.
To give the Primary Residence Parent a big block of time with the kids in the Summer, we look to the remaining dates outside of the Possessory Parent’s Extended Summer Possession dates.
Looking at the regular Weekend schedule, the Primary Residence Parent gets to take away one of 1st, 3rd or 5th weekends that would normally go to the Possessory Parent. What this does is allow the Primary Residence Parent to have 21 consecutive days with the kids to make summer plans or just to enjoy no exchanges for awhile. Practically speaking, this will be August if the Possessory Parent has the kids for the month of July. For families where the Possessory Parent lives more than 100 miles from the primary residence, the Primary Residence Parent can designate any 21 days outside of the Possessory Parent’s Extended Summer Possession.
You can designate the regular Weekend you want to take away as early as April 15, or as late as 14 days prior to the weekend you want to designate.
If the Possessory Parent lives more than 100 miles from the primary residence, then you must designate your 21 days by April 15 or you lose the right to have an Extended Summer Possession with the kids.
Congratulations, You’re Done!
I know it is a confusing mess, but now that you have decoded the Summer provisions of the Standard Possession Order, you are all set. Now that you have your Summer mapped out, you know exactly where the kids are for June, July and August, you can plan your summer vacations with – and without – the kids!
If you have questions about the Summer provisions of the Standard Possession Order, let the experienced Austin family law attorneys at Lazar Law can help you make sense of it. Send us an email or call 512-477-1600 to schedule time to talk with us.