Every year about this time people lose their minds. It is the holiday and holidays are special. Who better to spend them with than our children? I completely understand. This last weekend the phone rang off of the hook because “primary conservators” did not let the visiting parent have the child.

Texas Family Code 153 contains the Texas Standard Possession Schedule. In my opinion the very most important sentence in it is the sentence near the beginning that reads THE PARENTS SHALL HAVE POSSESSION OF THE CHILD(REN) AT ALL TIMES MUTUALLY AGREED TO IN ADVANCE and failing Mutual agreement the following shall apply. In practice I always break that into two sentences. The first THE PARENTS SHALL HAVE POSSESSION OF THE CHILD(REN) AT ALL TIMES MUTUALLY AGREED TO IN ADVANCE.

In the absence of mutual agreement the following shall apply:

If the parents will just work together a bit and think of ensuring the child has the opportunity to spend as much time as possible with the other parent they can ignore the remainder of the possession schedule. Their children will be happier. They will be happier. I won’t have much work at all. But that is not too realistic, is it? If they could work together and put their children first they probably wouldn’t be getting divorced.

Which leads me to why about this time of year people lose their minds. This last weekend was a perfect example. This immediate past weekend began on the third Friday of November – November 18. Weekends begin on Friday. One could reasonably conclude that it being the third weekend of the month, the possessory conservator/visiting parent would have possession of the children. After all the Texas Standard Possession Schedule states at section 153.(a)(1) “on weekends throughout the year beginning at 6:00 p.m. on the first, third, and fifth Friday of each month and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the following Sunday; and…..” BUT a little later at section 153.312 and 153.314 “Holiday possession unaffected by distance parents reside apart: (3) the possessory conservator shall have possession of the child in ODD-NUMBERED years beginning at 6:00 p.m. on the day the child is dismissed from school before Thanksgiving and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the following Sunday and the managing conservator shall have possession for the same period in EVEN-NUMBERED years (emphasis mine). The holiday schedule trumps regular weekend visitation schedule. This means if the school district where the child resides (as my school district did) dismisses the children for Thanksgiving break on Friday preceding Thanksgiving despite it being a third weekend, the primary conservator would have possession of the child.

Take the time to read any possession schedules all the way through. Talk with the other parent. They’re not the enemy. They are your child’s mother/father and your child loves them very much. At least they should and you need to do everything in your power to ensure they do. Then the two of you need to discuss what plans you have and how each of you can best accommodate your child’s needs and desires to spend as much time with the other parent as possible. THE PARENTS SHALL HAVE POSSESSION OF THE CHILD(REN) AT ALL TIMES MUTUALLY AGREED TO IN ADVANCE. Cling to the first sentence of a possession order. Live by it. Your children will be happier. You will be happier.

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