Just a little refresher on summer visitation under the standard visitation orders in Texas. This article only applies to the standard possession order. Your order may differ.
For the parent with visitation (also called the non-custodial parent or NCP):
April 1st of each year is the deadline to designate your thirty days of extended summer possession if you have a Texas standard possession order. If you designated days, then you know when your visit begins and ends. If you did not designate your visitation times by April 1st then it defaults to July 1 through July 31st . The possession beginning and ending times are 6:00 p.m. by default in Texas. Always check your order for exact dates and times for the exchange as sometimes they are modified.
The key phrase in the above paragraph is Extended Summer Possession. That is the thirty days that the non-custodial parent gets in the summer in addition to their standard weekends throughout the summer.
You do not have to default to the standard July 1 – July 31 dates, but you must give notice of your exact dates prior to April 1 pursuant to the rules for notification set out in your order.
Custodial parent (parent with custody or CP):
For the custodial parent, you have certain times set out for you for summer visitation in Texas as well. If you give the visiting parent notice by April 15th you can designate one weekend inside their thirty day period of extended summer possession to have the child. It will begin at 6:00 p.m. on Friday and end at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday and you must do all the driving (i.e. pick up and drop off). If you did not designate this weekend by April 15th then you lose that weekend. Notice that this weekend is “inside” the extended summer possession of the non-custodial parent, meaning it is within the thirty days. If the non-custodial parent picks two non-consecutive 15 day periods, then the you would pick a weekend inside one of those 15 day periods.
For example, if the visiting parent did not designate their thirty day summer possession by April 1st then we know they get the month of July. If the custodial parent gives notice between April 2 and April 15 of a weekend in July that they would like possession of the child, they get that weekend. If they do not give notice during that time frame (April 2 – April 15) they do not get any weekend during the thirty days extended summer visitation of the visiting parent.
The custodial parent gets an additional summer weekend pursuant to the standard visitation orders in Texas. This weekend takes place outside of the visiting parent’s thirty day extended summer possession. If the custodial parent gives the non-custodial parent notice by April 15th, or 14 days written notice on or after April 16th, that parent can choose one weekend during the summer to exercise visitation that would have otherwise been the visiting parent’s standard weekend possession. Again, this visit begins at 6:00 p.m. on Friday and ends at 6:00 p.m. on the following Sunday and the custodial parent must do all the driving. Again, check your orders for the exact transfer times as they may be different than 6:00 p.m.
Using our example above we know that the visiting parent has extended summer possession for the month of July in Texas without any notice. That leaves June and August for the custodial parent to choose a weekend that is “outside” the extended summer possession.
By way of example, let’s say the custodial parent misses the April 15th date but gives written notice to the other parent on July 16th that they will exercise their summer visitation weekend on August 4th, a weekend that would have otherwise been the non-custodial parent’s standard weekend. Under that scenario, the custodial parent would have the child beginning July 31st at 6:00 p.m. (which is the end of the extended summer possession of the NCP) through August 18th at 6:00 p.m. (the next standard weekend possession by the NCP). That allows plenty of time for a summer vacation to some beautiful locale in the great State of Texas, or in the world for that matter. The only times during the summer that are off limits for this weekend are Father’s Day and the extended summer possession (which you already got a weekend for that).
In order to understand the above example, you would have to find a year that the weekends matched the dates above. I used 2017 for the example.
Some key points I want you to remember:
- In the summer, the NCP gets normal 1st 3rd and 5th Friday weekend possessions IN ADDITION TO the extended summer possession of thirty days;
- The CP gets to choose two weekends during the summer:
- Any weekend inside the extended summer possession of the NCP, provided you give notice by April 1st.
- A weekend that would otherwise belong to the NCP (i.e. 1st, 3rd or 5th Friday to Sunday), provided that you give at least 14 days notice AND the weekend does not fall inside the extended summer possession or on Father’s day (if NCP is the Father).
Again, check your order for exact times for pick up and drop off as they may vary in your order. There are many variations to a standard possession order in Texas, so make sure to read and understand your order. If you need help, contact a local attorney to review your order with you so that you understand the “rules”.