Child Custody During the Holidays

Family LawIt seems every year about this time people lose their minds. The Possession and Access schedule listed on most Divorces and Suits Affecting the Parent Child Relationship list a holiday schedule. Every year people seem to have trouble understanding of following it.

There are a few things to keep in mind.

  1. The object of the order is to ensure BOTH parents get to participate in raising the child. The Child will almost always benefit from spending time with both parents. – Sec. 153.001.  PUBLIC POLICY.  (a)  The public policy of this state is to:

(1)  assure that children will have frequent and continuing contact with parents who have shown the ability to act in the best interest of the child;

(2)  provide a safe, stable, and nonviolent environment for the child;  and

(3)  encourage parents to share in the rights and duties of raising their child after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage.

    (b)  A court may not render an order that conditions the right of a conservator to possession of or access to a child on the payment of child support.


  1. If you and your EX agree to something that is ALWAYS OK, even if it varies from the Standard Possession and Access Order – Sec. 153.311.  MUTUAL AGREEMENT OR SPECIFIED TERMS FOR POSSESSION.  The court shall specify in a standard possession order that the parties may have possession of the child at times mutually agreed to in advance by the parties and, in the absence of mutual agreement, shall have possession of the child under the specified terms set out in the standard possession order.

  1. The Holiday schedule applies no matter what the distance between the parties.  – Sec. 153.314.  HOLIDAY POSSESSION UNAFFECTED BY DISTANCE PARENTS RESIDE APART.  The following provisions govern possession of the child for certain specific holidays and supersede conflicting weekend or Thursday periods of possession without regard to the distance the parents reside apart.  The possessory conservator and the managing conservator shall have rights of possession of the child as follows:

  1. The Holiday schedule supersedes weekend visitation – See 153.314 above.

Holiday visitations work on an odd year/even year basis – e.g. 153.314 (1)  the possessory conservator shall have possession of the child in even-numbered years beginning at 6 p.m. on the day the child is dismissed from school for the Christmas school vacation and ending at noon on December 28, and the managing conservator shall have possession for the same period in odd-numbered years;

(2)  the possessory conservator shall have possession of the child in odd-numbered years beginning at noon on December 28 and ending at 6 p.m. on the day before school resumes after that vacation, and the managing conservator shall have possession for the same period in even-numbered years;

Now perhaps this is too basic but here goes. This is 2017. 2017 is an odd number. Thus, unless the parties agree to something else the parent the child lives with most of the time would have from the time school lets out for Christmas Break until noon on December 28 and the other parent would have from noon December 28 until 6:00 p.m. the day before school resumes. Next year, 2018, is an even numbered year and so the holiday possession schedule flips.

  1. Lastly, as unpleasant as it is, if one of the parents disobeys the court’s order there is little that can be done about it right now. This time of the year Courts, just like everyone else take off. The police department generally can not do anything to enforce your possession and access. Attempt to resolve your disagreements with your EX. If you can’t, keep a log of what all happened and after the new year, contact an attorney to possibly file a Motion to Enforce and seek makeup time.

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