2015 Texas Holiday Visitation Schedule with your Children: Guidelines for Thanksgiving and Christmas

Now is the time to review your Holiday 2015 Schedule for visitation with your children during this wonderful time of year! We suggest you review the specific circumstances provisions of your order concerning visitation.  Because many families have specific situations that occur during this special time, this visitation time is the most modified area in the Standard Possession Order. The Holiday schedule will always override the Thursday or Weekend schedules.

Here is a reminder of the current Texas Family Law Code’s Standard Possession Order for the Holidays.

Texas Family Law Code’s Standard Visitation Guidelines for Thanksgiving:
The possessory conservator or non-primary conservator shall have possession of the child in odd-numbered years, beginning at 6 p.m. on the day the child is dismissed from school before Thanksgiving and ending at 6 p.m. on the following Sunday, and the managing conservator shall have possession for the same period in even-numbered years;

Texas Family Law Code’s Standard Visitation Guidelines for Christmas Break:
The possessory conservator or non-primary 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;

The possessory conservator or non-primary 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;

The Holiday Season should be a happy time for but for families split by divorce, the emotional issues from the result of the break-up on the affected family can cause the joy of the season to be overshadowed by unhappiness and despair!

Unfortunately, many parents, wait too long to confirm visitation plans for the upcoming holiday season, resulting in an unfortunate and a very unhappy family situation.  If you cannot reach an agreement regarding visitation or you believe you may be deprived of holiday visitation by the other parent, now is the time to contact an attorney.

Children need to have structure in their Holiday Visitation schedule to ensure that they will be able to see both parents and share the joy of the season with their entire family.  The children are often the ones who suffer when the Holiday Visitation arrangement goes awry.

The best gift of the holiday a child can experience is an early proactive arrangement of all holiday plans so everyone knows dates and times for visitation with both Mom and Dad.   This Holiday Season vow to keep your child out of the middle of any family conflict and start to develop new holiday traditions with your child and family.  Many parents have new relationships/marriages and other children in the family group. The new holiday traditions should include everyone and be a bonding experience for years to come.

Tips on Dealing with Holiday Visitation Issues

  • Make sure your children have positive holiday memories. Shield them from conflicts between warring ex-spouses.
  • Plan ahead now on scheduling the upcoming holiday visitations. The longer the wait, the more stress involved!
  • If there is a deviation in the holiday schedule this year, make sure it is, in advance, in writing.  Make sure the document shows what times are being exchanged and both parents sign it for future confirmation.
  • Stay flexible and compromise: If you have to work, consider having the kids spend more time with the other parent so they have time with friends.  This is a time for new family traditions and changes from old habits.  Put aside your differences with the other parent and make the children’s time happy with good memories.
  • If age appropriate, ask your children what is important to them during the holidays.  There may be a special place or event that is very important to them; try to accommodate this.
  • Enjoy the Holidays with your children.  This is a special time for wonderful bonding and beautiful memories. Do not undermine their holiday by hateful confrontations and fighting.
  • If you anticipate a problem could arise regarding holiday visitation schedules, don’t delay! Consult a legal expert in time to get the conflict resolved before the holidays commence!

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Out of State Child Relocation and the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA)

In today’s hectic pace, moving to another state for business, family demands, or pleasure is a very common occurrence. But what about the family that is separated by divorce or separation and share custody of their children?  What happens to this family situation when Mom or Dad decides to take another job or wants to move to another state and take the children to or from the other? A Child Custody Relocation Case?

Sadly this happens frequently. Most Texas attorneys employ a geographic restriction in divorce decrees for couples who have children.  These restrictions dictate that the Child and Custodial Parent must live within a school district, County of Domicile, or consecutive contingent counties near the non-custodial parent. But what happens if this restriction clause is not contained in the divorce decree or if Dad/Mom were never married?

Forty Nine States, including Texas have adopted the UNIFORM CHILD CUSTODY JURISDICTION AND ENFORCEMENT ACT (UCCJEA) drafted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws in 1997. The UCCJEA is a very helpful law since all states but one participate in the determination  of the ”HOME STATE” and which jurisdiction will  handle the family case. UCCJEA also helps to protect non-custodial Parents fighting for child custody out of state when their children have been moved to another state or over 100 miles away from them.

How does The State of Texas treat an initial Child Custody determination?

Texas Family Code 152.201 of the UCCJEA states, among other things, that a court may consider custody issues if the Child:

*Has continually lived in the state for 6 months or longer and Texas was the home state of the child within six months before the commencement of the legal proceeding.

*Was living in the state before being wrongfully abducted elsewhere by a parent seeking custody in another state. One parent continues to live in Texas.

*Has an established over significant time relationships with people (family, relatives or teachers), ties, and attachments in the state

*Has been abandoned in an emergency: or is safe in the current state, but could be in danger of neglect or abuse in the home state

Relocation is a child custody situation which will turn on the individual facts of the specific case, so that each case is tried on its own merits.

Most child custody relocation cases tried in Texas follow a predictable course:

  1. Allowing or not allowing the move.
  2. Order of psychological evaluations or social studies of family members
  3. Modification of custody and adjusting of child’s time spent with parents
  4. Adjusting child support
  5. Order of mediation to settle dispute
  6. Allocating transportation costs
  7. Order opposing parties to provide all information on child’s addresses and telephone number.

There is another important cause of action in Texas where the court will “take “EMERGENCY JURISDICTION’ over a case even though another state has the original jurisdiction. If the opposing party can prove that a legitimate emergency exists and Texas needs to assume the jurisdiction. These emergency situations could be abuse of the child, abandonment or cause neglect of the child, or any action that would put the child in immediate harm’s way.

The Nacol Law Firm P.C. @ www.nacollawfirm.com  is committed to helping parents have the right to have frequent and continuing contact with their child at all times and encourage parents to co-share in the rights and duties of raising a stable, loving child. Many times, because of parental alienation or other personal factors, a child will be taken away from the non-custodial parent and this can cause some serious mental and behavior problems for the child which could follow her/him into a lifetime adult situation.  

Sometimes you can settle, SOMETIMES YOU FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHT!  We can help!

Texas Divorce and the Special Needs Child

Divorces with children are painful and emotional under the best of circumstances, but a divorce with a “Special Needs Child” is usually a very complex and mentally stressful situation for all family members involved.  

The main goal in a “Special Needs” divorce is that all decisions affecting a child with disabilities must be in the “Best Interest of the Child.”

What is the “Best Interest of the “Special Needs Child”? Often this is the very reason that the parents are divorcing.  The parents cannot agree on the existence of a disability or the best approach needed for care and support for their special needs child.  Many times a medical/neutral professional will need to be involved to help the parents transition the new “after” divorce life of the child and parents.

When working with parents of a “Special Needs Child”, our attorneys focus on the most critical issues impacting the child and the family unit.

Some of these important issues are:

  • Keeping the relationships between the family members agreeable in making the necessary decisions concerning visitation and transitions between both parents’ homes. You child needs contact with both parents unless there is an abuse or addiction issue or the other parent’s home is an unsafe environment for the “Special Needs” Child.  
  • Agreed upon health and medical care issues including special therapies to address the child’s needs. Let the child know that both parents are in agreement on the care for the child.
  • Special social and recreational opportunities and appropriate educational programs are available for the child and her/his disability and should be agreed upon by both parents, if possible.
  • Coordinate structured and regular visitation dates with same place drop off points. Give your child a calendar with visitation dates and let her/him be prepared to visit the other parent.
  • Helping the parent to find a support group of family, friends, counselors and neighbors to help your family with your “Special Needs” Child. This help may come in many forms, mental and physical support, financial planning or just a good hug to say “you are ok”.  

What is very important in a “Special Needs” Divorce is to realize what is “normal” in most divorces may not be the norm here.  There are many important situations that will have to be resolved before the divorce can be finalized.  The divorced parents of the “Special Needs” Child will continue to have to work together for what is best for their child.

Other serious considerations to settle:

  • The transitions after a divorce on living arrangements and visitations for the child. It will be difficult to use a standard visitation schedule and a special parenting plan will have to be agreed upon to meet all of the child’s needs.
  • The divorce decree will have to be custom designed to make sure the needs of the child will be met for the child’s entire life. The final divorce decree may have to be modified for the child’s benefit.
  • Be knowledgeable of the financial aspect of your “Special Needs” Child. What type of care will be needed on a daily basis and will one parent have to give up all monetary benefits from employment outside of the home to take care of the child.
  • List all expenses of raising this child: medical costs, food for special nutritional diets, special medical equipment needed for use of child, special schooling and transportation needs.  This is very important to make sure the needs of the child will be met.
  • Spousal Maintenance/Alimony: this amount must be worked out to ensure the caregiving parent will be able to afford all need of the child and their household.  Many times this parent will not be able to work out of the home because of the constant care for the child.  This will usually continue for the entire life of the child, so the divorce decree will have to reflect this continued support and cost of living changes.

When choosing a qualified lawyer for your “Special Needs” Divorce, it is important that the lawyer is familiar with what is involved with this type of divorce and understands the importance of tailoring a custom decree that will fit the best interest of the child and family situation for the duration of the child’s existence. It won’t be easy, but if the parents will work together, it can be achievable!