It’s today!! Today is the day that many children whose parents don’t live together get to see the other parent for the first time during the 2018-2019 Christmas break!
Why? Because this is the arbitrary day chosen by the Texas Legislature in the Texas Standard Possession Order for the transfer of children during the Christmas (“Winter”) break from school.
In Section 153.314 the Texas Family Code says, in part:
The possessory conservator and the managing conservator shall have rights of possession of the child as follows:
(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; [emphasis added]
So, a couple things about this:
1. Does this apply to all situations in which parents do not live together?
No. If you do not have any orders from the court, then you are governed by whatever your agreement with the other parent is.
2. Does this mean that my Orders say this or “should” say this?
Only if you have been ordered to abide by a Texas “Standard Possession Schedule” or “Modified Standard Possession Schedule” sometime after 1998.
3. Who does that leave out?
People whose orders are from earlier than the “new” schedule went into effect – the old “Standard” was to exchange on December 26.
People who are governed by Orders issued by an out of State court.
People who have made agreements to alter the schedule dictated in their orders.
And now a word of advice for the friends and family of those that are forced to live by these orders:
Don’t ask “Why?” and say things like “That is so stupid. I’d get my kids whenever I want!” All that does is add stress to the situation.
If a parent is under a Texas Custody Order, the parent is not free to “get their children whenever they want." Doing so, and violating the Order can land them in jail – for a very long time.
Texas Courts have the power of contempt to enforce their Orders, and although they do not use it often for extremely minor issues, it is used commonly to punish those that refuse to follow orders dealing with possession of children and child support.
Oh, on that note – one more thing – a question often asked is this:
Does my ex being behind in child support mean that I do not have to give him or her the children for the Christmas break?
Answer: Absolutely not.
If your ex is behind on child support or fails to follow the possession schedule, the proper remedy is an Enforcement Action, not withholding your part of the Order.
To all those that are getting their children today – Have fun! Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and have a Safe New Year’s celebration!!