What about a Texas Father’s Summer Visitation? The Standard Child Possession Order – Texas Family Code
When parents are battling over divorce issues and child custody, they often times do not understand that the Texas Family Code has expanded the standard child possession order to make joint managing conservators with more equal rights and duties and possession of the child. It is important to keep in mind that, under certain circumstances, and depending on the age of a child, a judge may alter the standard possession order in any way that serves the best interest of the child.
The following is an example of a standard possession order for a parent who lives within 100 miles of their child under the Texas Family Code.
IT IS ORDERED that the conservators shall have possession of the child at times mutually agreed to in advance by the parties, and, in the absence of mutual agreement, it is ORDERED that the conservators shall have possession of the child under the specified terms set out in this Standard Possession Order.
PARENTS WHO RESIDE UNDER 100 MILES APART:
Except as otherwise explicitly provided in this Standard Possession Order, when Possessory Conservator resides 100 miles or less from the primary residence of the child, Possessory Conservator shall have the right to possession of the child as follows:
Weekends that do not occur during the regular school term, 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.
2. Extended Summer Possession by Possessory Conservator—
With Written Notice by April 1—If Possessory Conservator gives Managing Conservator written notice by April 1 of a year specifying an extended period or periods of summer possession for that year, Possessory Conservator shall have possession of the child for thirty days beginning no earlier than the day after the child’s school is dismissed for the summer vacation and ending no later than seven days before school resumes at the end of the summer vacation in that year, to be exercised in no more than two separate periods of at least seven consecutive days each, as specified in the written notice, provided that the period or periods of extended summer possession do not interfere with Father’s Day Weekend. These periods of possession shall begin and end at 6:00 p.m.
Without Written Notice by April 1—If Possessory Conservator does not give Managing Conservator written notice by April 1 of a year specifying an extended period or periods of summer possession for that year, Possessory Conservator shall have possession of the child for thirty consecutive days in that year beginning at 6:00 p.m. on July 1 and ending at 6:00 p.m. on July 31.
Notwithstanding the Thursday periods of possession during the regular school term and the weekend periods of possession ORDERED for Possessory Conservator, it is explicitly ORDERED that Managing Conservator shall have a superior right of possession of the child as follows:
2. Summer Weekend Possession by Managing Conservator—If Managing Conservator gives Possessory Conservator written notice by April 15 of a year, Managing Conservator shall have possession of the child on any one weekend beginning at 6:00 p.m. on Friday and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the following Sunday during any one period of the extended summer possession by Possessory Conservator in that year, provided that Managing Conservator picks up the child from Possessory Conservator and returns the child to that same place and that the weekend so designated does not interfere with Father’s Day Weekend.
3. Extended Summer Possession by Managing Conservator—If Managing Conservator gives Possessory Conservator written notice by April 15 of a year or gives Possessory Conservator fourteen days’ written notice on or after April 16 of a year, Managing Conservator may designate one weekend beginning no earlier than the day after the child’s school is dismissed for the summer vacation and ending no later than seven days before school resumes at the end of the summer vacation, during which an otherwise scheduled weekend period of possession by Possessory Conservator shall not take place in that year, provided that the weekend so designated does not interfere with Possessory Conservator’s period or periods of extended summer possession or with Father’s Day Weekend.
PARENTS WHO RESIDE OVER 100 MILES APART:
If the possessory conservator resides more than 100 miles from the residence of the child, the possessory conservator shall have the right to possession of the child as follows:
1. Summer Possession:
(A) Gives the managing conservator written notice by April 1 of each year specifying an extended period or periods of summer possession, the possessory conservator shall have possession of the child for 42 days beginning not earlier than the day after the child’s school is dismissed for the summer vacation and ending not later than seven days before school resumes at the end of the summer vacation, to be exercised in not more than two separate periods of at least seven consecutive days each with each period of possession beginning and ending at 6 p.m. on each applicable day; or
(B) Does not give the managing conservator written notice by April 1 of each year specifying an extended period or periods of summer possession, the possessory conservator shall have possession of the child for 42 consecutive days beginning at 6 p.m. on June 15 and ending at 6 p.m. on July 27;
2. If the managing conservator gives the possessory conservator written notice by April 15 of each year the managing conservator shall have possession of the child on one weekend beginning Friday at 6 p.m. and ending at 6 p.m. on the following Sunday during one period of possession by the possessory conservator under Subdivision (3), provided that if a period of possession by the possessory conservator exceeds 30 days, the managing conservatory may have possession of the child under the terms of this subdivision on two nonconsecutive weekends during that time period, and further provided that the managing conservator picks up the child from the possessory conservator and returns the child to that same place; and
3. If the managing conservatory give the possessory conservator written notice by April 15 of each year, the managing conservator may designate 21 days beginning not earlier than the day after the child’s school is dismissed for the summer vacation and ending not later than seven days before school resumes at the end of the summer vacation, to be exercised in not more than two separate periods of at least seven consecutive days each with each period of possession beginning and ending at 6 p.m. on each applicable day, during which the possessory conservator may not have possession of the child, provided that the period or periods so designated do not interfere with the possessory conservator’s period or periods of extended summer possession or with Father’s Day if the possessory conservator is the father of the child.
Holidays Unaffected by Distance
Notwithstanding the weekend and Thursday periods of possession of Possessory Conservator, Managing Conservator and Possessory Conservator shall have the right to possession of the child as follows:
Father’s Day Weekend—Father shall have the right to possession of the child each year, beginning at 6:00 p.m. on the Friday preceding Father’s Day and ending at 6:00 p.m. on Father’s Day, provided that if Father is not otherwise entitled under this Standard Possession Order to present possession of the child, he shall pick up the child from the other conservator’s residence and return the child to that same place.
General Terms and Conditions
Except as otherwise explicitly provided in this Standard Possession Order, the terms and conditions of possession of the child that apply regardless of the distance between the residence of a parent and the child are as follows:
1. Surrender of Child by Managing Conservator—Managing Conservator is ORDERED to surrender the child to Possessory Conservator at the beginning of each period of Possessory Conservator’s possession at the residence of Managing Conservator.
If a period of possession by Possessory Conservator begins at the time the child’s school is regularly dismissed, Managing Conservator is ORDERED to surrender the child to Possessory Conservator at the beginning of each such period of possession at the school in which the child is enrolled. If the child is not in school, Possessory Conservator shall pick up the child at the residence of Managing Conservator at 6:00 p.m., and Managing Conservator is ORDERED to surrender the child to Possessory Conservator at the residence of Managing Conservator at 6:00 p.m. under these circumstances.
2. Surrender of Child by Possessory Conservator—Possessory Conservator is ORDERED to surrender the child to Managing Conservator at the residence of Managing Conservator at the end of each period of possession.
3. Return of Child by Possessory Conservator—Possessory Conservator is ORDERED to return the child to the residence of Managing Conservator at the end of each period of possession. However, it is ORDERED that, if Managing Conservator and Possessory Conservator live in the same county at the time of rendition of this order, Possessory Conservator’s county of residence remains the same after rendition of this order, and Managing Conservator’s county of residence changes, effective on the date of the change of residence by Managing Conservator, Possessory Conservator shall surrender the child to Managing Conservator at the residence of Possessory Conservator at the end of each period of possession.
If a period of possession by Possessory Conservator ends at the time the child’s school resumes, Possessory Conservator is ORDERED to surrender the child to Managing Conservator at the end of each such period of possession at the school in which the child is enrolled or, if the child is not in school, at the residence of Managing Conservator at [address].
4. Surrender of Child by Possessory Conservator—Possessory Conservator is ORDERED to surrender the child to Managing Conservator, if the child is in Possessory Conservator’s possession or subject to Possessory Conservator’s control, at the beginning of each period of Managing Conservator’s exclusive periods of possession, at the place designated in this Standard Possession Order.
5. Return of Child by Managing Conservator—Managing Conservator is ORDERED to return the child to Possessory Conservator, if Possessory Conservator is entitled to possession of the child, at the end of each of Managing Conservator’s exclusive periods of possession, at the place designated in this Standard Possession Order.
6. Personal Effects—each conservator is ORDERED to return with the child the personal effects that the child brought at the beginning of the period of possession.
7. Designation of Competent Adult—each conservator may designate any competent adult to pick up and return the child, as applicable. IT IS ORDERED that a conservator or a designated competent adult be present when the child is picked up or returned.
8. Inability to Exercise Possession—each conservator is ORDERED to give notice to the person in possession of the child on each occasion that the conservator will be unable to exercise that conservator’s right of possession for any specified period.
9. Written Notice—written notice shall be deemed to have been timely made if received or postmarked before or at the time that notice is due.
10. Notice to School and Managing Conservator—If Possessory Conservator’s time of possession of the child ends at the time school resumes and for any reason the child is not or will not be returned to school, Possessory Conservator shall immediately notify the school and Managing Conservator that the child will not be or has not been returned to school.
Again, a Judge may under varied circumstances change any provision of a Standard Possession Order.
In the State of Texas there is one birth statistic that continues to rise: The Birth of Out of Wedlock Children! With dropping marriage rates and increasing non-married couples living together, the percentage of children being born out of wedlock is growing yearly. The Texas Out of Wedlock Childbirth rate of 2019 stands at 41.4%. How are the fathers of these children treated? Does a father have any rights to their children? In most states, the mother of a child has 100% of the custody rights until the paternity of the father is legally established. How does a Texas father legally establish paternity when the mother of their child refuses to allow him to sign the birth certificate and tells him that he will never have any type of communication or relationship with his child?
What are a father’s rights in the State of Texas?
Any and every right a parent may have is available to a father who seeks them.
How does the father file for paternity of the child in Texas?
1. Paternity Registry (Family Code 160.401-2)
The Texas Paternity Registry was created in 1997 to aid men (potential fathers) who desired to be notified of a proceeding for the adoption of or the termination of parental rights regarding a child that he may have fathered. They may register with the Registry of Paternity. The purpose of the Registry of Paternity is to “protect the parental rights of fathers who affirmatively assume responsibility for their children by registering or acknowledging their children (FC Chapter160, Subchapter E). To sign up with the Registry, the father or suspected father must file a Notice of Intent to Claim Paternity before a child is born or within 31 days of the child’s birth. (see form) https://www.dshs.texas.gov/vs/field/docs/vs130(2).pdf
Many men use this Registry when a Father and Mother do not have a continuing relationship and the man is not listed as the presumed father on the birth certificate or Acknowledgement of Paternity.
- Man and woman have a consensual sexual relationship for a brief time and no further contact. Man wants to make sure that if woman becomes pregnant and has a child, he wishes to assert his paternity
- Man and woman do no agree he is the father of the child. Man wishes to assert paternity.
- More than one man claims to be the father of the child. Each man would complete a separate Notice of Intent to Claim Paternity.
- Mother refuses to complete and sign the Acknowledgment of Paternity form.
The notice of Intent Claim Paternity form will not legally establish paternity nor be used to add a man’s name to the child’s birth certificate.
2. Alternate Means to Establish Paternity (Family Code 160.301-2 and 160.402, 160.601)
The mother of a child and a man claiming to be the biological father of the child may sign an acknowledgment of paternity with the intent to establish the man’s paternity.
An acknowledgment of the paternity must:
- Be in a record
- Be signed or otherwise authenticated by the mother and the man seeking to establish paternity
- State that the child whose paternity is being acknowledged:
1. Does not have a presumed father or has a presumed father whose full name is stated
2. Does not have another acknowledged or adjudicated father
- State whether there has been genetic testing and that the acknowledging man’s claim of paternity is consistent with the results of the testing
- State that the signatories understand that the acknowledgment is the equivalent of a judicial adjudication of the paternity of the child and that a challenge to the acknowledgment is permitted only under limited circumstances and is barred after 4 year.
A man is entitled to notice of a proceeding regardless of whether he registers with the registry of paternity if:
- A father-child relationship between the man and the child has been established under this chapter or another law.
- The man commences a proceeding to adjudicate his paternity before the court has terminated his parental rights.
The parentage of a child may be adjudicated in a civil proceeding by voluntary legitimation.
A Father should be proactive and enforce his rights promptly to enhance his probability of fair and equal treatment that is binding under the law!
Nacol Law Firm P.C.
Walnut Glen Building
4188 Walnut Hill Lane #1190
Dallas, Texas 75231
tel: (972) 690-3333
Despite the difficulties faced in a divorce, the children should not be placed in the center of the crossfire. During the divorce process, and sometimes following the divorce process, it is not uncommon for a parent to become so wrapped up in anger, vengeance or simply being “right” that they forget the effect the whole process is having on the children. Below are some behaviors to avoid and some suggestions to assist you with improving your communications during the divorce process:
- Do not use children as messengers between “mom” and “dad.”
- Do not criticize your former spouse in the presence of your children because children realize they are part “mom” and part “dad.”
- Resist any temptation to allow your children to act as your caretaker. Children need to be allowed the freedom to be “children.” Taking on such responsibility at an early age degrades their self-esteem, feeds anger and hinders a child’s ability to relate to their peers.
- Encourage your children to see your former spouse frequently. Promote a good relationship for the benefit of the child.
- Do not argue with your former spouse in the presence of the children. No matter what the situation, the child will feel torn between taking “mommy’s” side and “daddy’s” side.
- At every step during the divorce process, remind yourself that your children’s interests are paramount, even over your own.
- If you are the non-primary parent, pay your child support.
- If you are the primary parent and are not receiving child support, do not tell your children. This feeds a child’s sense of abandonment and erodes their stability.
- Remember that the Court’s view child support and child custody as two separate and distinct issues. Children do not understand whether “mommy” and/or “daddy” paid child support, but they do understand that “mommy” and/or “daddy” wants to see me.
- If at all possible, do not uproot your children. When a family is falling apart, a child needs a stable home and school life to buffer the trauma.
- If you have an addiction problem, whether it be drugs, alcohol or any other affliction, seek help immediately. Such impairments inhibit your ability to reassure your children and give them the attention they need.
- If you are having difficulty dealing with issues relating to your former spouse, discuss such issues with mental health professionals and counselors.
- Reassure your children that they are loved and that they have no fault in the divorce.
Though these steps are not all-inclusive, they will assist you in dealing with the complex issues of a divorce and hopefully minimize the impact of the divorce process on the children.
One in three children lose touch with a parent, usually the father, following a divorce. In a recent survey, one in five parents stated that their primary objective during the divorce was to make the experience as unpleasant as possible for the former spouse; despite the effects such attitudes and behavior have on the children. One in three children stated that they felt isolated and lonely during and following the divorce process.
Parental Alienation Syndrome is the systematic denigration by one parent with the intent of alienating the child against the other parent. In most cases, the purpose of the alienation is to gain custody of a child and exclude involvement by the father. In other cases the mother wants the father out of the way to start a new life, the mother wants more of the money and assets than she is entitled to and uses the children as pawns. The mother hates the father and the children become false weapons. These are just a few reason Parental Alienation occurs in domestic disputes.
Parental Alienation Syndrome is common because it is an effective device for gaining custody of a child. Trough systematic alienation, one parent may slowly brainwash a child against the other parent. The parent involved in such alienation behaviors then gains misplaced loyalty of the child.
There are two types of Parental Alienation Syndrome, medical and legal. Medical Parental Alienation Syndrome is a form of emotional child abuse. Parents in hostile separations may suffer depression, anger and anxiety or aggression. The expression of these feelings often takes on a form of withdrawing love and communication. This extends to the children through the custodial parent. It is a mechanism employed to stop the father from having contact with his children; and can be described by the mother holding the children “hostages,” afraid of the mother, and obeying her as a means of survival. The child may also be instilled with false memories of the father, may be coached and/or brainwashed. Parental Alienation Syndrome is recognized by the courts but is very difficult to define and in most cases requires bringing in County Social Services, Child Protective Services, and/or other professionals. Anyone claiming Parental Alienation Syndrome should look for family therapy as a constructive way forward. Other forms of abuse are physical, sexual, and neglect and are much easier to identify.
It is important no matter how bad the alienation becomes that you strategize to create a line of contact with your children, the mother and anyone connected to them. Having a plan is critical. When a father loses contact with his children he goes from disbelief, to despair, anger, depression, confusion and a total sense of social injustice. Having a plan means looking at the situation logically, rather than emotionally.
1. The first stage is to look for direct contact with the mother and children. Can you meet, write, or phone?
2. If you are not allowed contact, can a relative contact the mother or children on your behalf?
3. Can you contact your children through church, school, clubs, sports activities, or daycare?
4. Can you participate in your children’s activities?
5. Do you have a non-suggestive witness that can go with you when you exercise your visitation rights?
6. Is there a local grocery store where you can purchase something to have a receipt stating the date and time you were in the area?
7. Will the police make a report stating that you attempted to exercise your visitation?
8. Whenever possible take video and pictures.
In cases of Parental Alienation Syndrome it is important that you document everything. Keep a diary or timeline. Write important events down on a calendar.
If you are a victim of Parental Alienation Syndrome, contact an attorney. Discuss your options. Formulate a plan to move forward. Do not give up your parental rights as a father.
Child support is one of the most heavily litigated issues in all of family law. To increase or decrease payments there are specific requirements that must be met to modify a previous child support order. Per Tex. Fam. Code § 156.401 the requirements necessary to modify a prior child support order are:
- The circumstances of the child or an affected party have materially and substantially changed; or
- Three years have elapsed since the order was entered or last modified, and the amount of child support differs from the statutory guidelines by either 20% or $100.00.
The second requirement is self-explanatory. The three-year limitation to file for another modification is for the benefits of the Courts. If there was no three-year waiting period to refill, then every conservator would constantly attempt to modify child support, thus creating endless litigation for clogging the Courts’ dockets.
The first requirement needs more explanation. A Material and Substantial change in the circumstances of the child or an affected party must be clearly shown at trial. Many Courts are meticulous in making the determination of what a Material and Substantial change is regarding the child and the affected party to insure this requirement is not abused for excessive litigation.
To prove a Substantial and Material change in circumstances, a conservator must show evidence at the final hearing of:
- The financial needs/expenses at the time of the divorce or prior modification for the children and the person affected, and;
- The financial needs/expenses at the time of the request for the modification.
If evidence of financial needs/expenses are not submitted and proved regarding both (1) the prior divorce/modification and (2) the recent modification, then no Substantial and Material change can be adequately proved. Further, if the request for modification of child support is predicated solely on one conservator’s increase in earning capacity, absent other compelling evidence, the change in circumstances is not Substantial and Material. Interest of L.R., 416 S.W.3d 675, (Tex. App.—Houston [14 Dist.] 2013, pet. denied.)
If one conservator decides to file a modification of child support within three years just because the other conservative received a better job, it may be dismissed. At the end of the day a Court has broad discretion on determining what is Substantial and Material and may allow the case to be heard and give an unfavourable ruling, but if that occurs you will have the ability to appeal the judgment and request attorney’s fees. It is important to know in any family law case the Judge has extremely broad discretion and interprets case law in a way that he deems fit using the Best Interest Test.
If you are a conservator that meet these requirements above and wish to increase or decrease the child support obligation, be sure to hire an experienced attorney. Nacol Law Firm will always fight for you and your children’s best interest.
Julian Nacol, Attorney
Nacol Law Firm, PC
Call (972) 690-3333