When we speak generally about child custody in Texas, the word "usually" is often used because every family situation is different.
With that in mind, we thought that now would be a good time to discuss holiday provisions in child custody orders since Thanksgiving is just around the corner.
In many cases, the court will name one parent as managing conservator and the other parent as possessory conservator. Under the Texas Family Code, the guidelines for holiday possession are different for managing conservators and possessory conservators.
In terms of decision-making regarding the child, the managing conservator typically has more authority than the possessory conservator. However, the court's initial presumption is that each parent plays an important role in the child's life and has a right to spend time with the child.
With a standard possession order, the parent named as possessory conservator will have physical custody of the child during the Thanksgiving holiday on odd-numbered years. The possessory conservator's possession of the child begins at 6 p.m. on the school day before Thanksgiving and ends at 6 p.m. the following Sunday.
The managing conservator has possession of the child for the same holiday period on even-numbered years.
In fact, the Texas Family Code specifies holiday possession for a number of holidays, including Christmas, Mothers' Day, Fathers' Day and the child's birthday.
Holidays and special occasions can be wonderful yet challenging times for families, especially when the parents no longer live together. It is possible, though, to develop a creative and workable parenting plan that is in the child's best interests while preserving each parent's rights during the holidays.
Again, keep in mind that child custody arrangements vary a great deal between families. Going to court is not always necessary, but many parents seek court intervention when they are not in full agreement on parenting plans.
The best way to protect your child's best interests and preserve your rights as a parent is to work with an experienced family law attorney.
For more on these issues, please see Nix | Poet's overview of child custody and visitation.