What To Expect From Summer Child Custody - Bineham & Gillen

custodyWhat To Expect From Summer Child Custody

October 9, 2023by James Gillen

As the summer months approach, many divorced parents may find themselves confronted for the first time with the boundaries of summer custody schedules.

We at Bineham & Gillen understand that court order jargon can be difficult to comprehend at times, so we’ve created this article to assist you in better understanding the summer visitation process. Read on to learn more about the most common summer custody details that divorced couples can expect.

How Does Summer Visitation Work In Texas?

Custodial vs Non-Custodial

In Texas, the custodial parent, the parent with primary physical custody, typically has the right to designate the child’s primary residence during the summer months. The non-custodial parent, often referred to as the possessory conservator, is usually entitled to extended summer visitation.

The court will generally agree with whatever the parents decide so long as it doesn’t negatively impact the children. If the parents cannot come to an agreement, however, the court will step in.

What Is Texas Standard Visitation?

A court-ordered default visitation arrangement is called a Standard Possession Order in Texas. It begins the day after the child’s school dismisses for the summer and ends seven days before school resumes. A Standard Possession Order permits visits between custodial and non-custodial parents throughout the summer months.

Expanded Standard Possession Order

A divorced couple may be granted an Expanded Standard Possession Order in certain circumstances. The only detail that differs in this situation is the amount of time that a parent may be allowed to spend with their child during the summer.

Non-custodial parents are granted an additional 12 days (from 30 to 42) and are required to provide written notice to the custodial parent by April 1st. Non-custodial parents may also opt out of using the additional days, which will then become available to the custodial parent.

Local Summer Custody

The first factor to take into account is how far away the non-custodial parent lives from the custodial parent. If they are local (less than 100 miles), then the non-custodial parent is eligible for both summer visitation AND summer weekend possession.

Summer visitation refers to the extended consecutive period of up to 42 days that the child is placed in their care. Summer weekend possession refers to additional weekends that the non-custodial parent may spend with the child that may not otherwise be allowed during the rest of the year.

Tips For Custodial Parents On Summer Visitation In Texas

During the summer, custodial parents have two periods of possession, usually starting and ending the summer term. The first weekend must take place within the summer term (after the child’s school dismisses). This is their first summer weekend possession, and it should extend from Friday to Sunday.

The second weekend marks the end of the summer term, often when the custodial parent prepares the child for back to school. It should follow the same conditions as the first.

Here are a few of the most common conditions custodial parents must follow for these summer weekend possessions:

  • Children must be picked up and returned to the non-custodial parent’s house by the custodial parent.
  • By April 15th, the custodial parent must send a written notice to the non-custodial parent informing them of the weekends they have chosen.
  • If notice of the chosen weekends is not given to the non-custodial parent, the custodial parent has waived possession of the summer weekend. In other words, the non-custodial parent could claim time with the child during those times.

Tips For Non-Custodial Parents For Summer Visitation

The specific details of summer visitation, including the dates and duration, are usually outlined in the court-ordered custody agreement or visitation schedule. If there is no specific provision in the court order regarding summer visitation, Texas law provides a standard possession order, which includes provisions for summer visitation.

Under the standard possession order, the non-custodial parent’s extended summer visitation usually lasts for 30 days. Under the Expanded Possession Order, it can last 42 days.

This period begins by default on July 1st and ends on July 31st. However, if the non-custodial parent gives written notice to the custodial parent by April 1st requesting a different period for summer visitation, the visitation period may be adjusted.

During the extended summer visitation, the non-custodial parent typically has the right to have uninterrupted possession of the child and make decisions regarding the child’s activities and care during that time.

Custodial parents have until April 1st to set visitation schedules for the summer. Otherwise, possession will default to July 1st through July 31st until you notify the court otherwise.

Summer Weekend Possession

Under the standard possession order in Texas, which is often used as a default visitation schedule, the non-custodial parent is entitled to extended summer weekend possession. This means that during the summer months, the non-custodial parent has the right to visit with the child on designated weekends, in addition to their regular visitation schedule.

The extended summer weekend possession typically starts on Friday at 6:00 PM and ends on Sunday at 6:00 PM. This schedule allows the non-custodial parent to spend an extended period of time with the child over the weekends during the summer months.

It’s important to note that the specific dates and terms of summer weekend possession may vary depending on the custody agreement or visitation schedule in place for each individual case. Parents are encouraged to review their court order or custody agreement to understand the exact details of their summer weekend possession rights.

Summer Visitation Rules For Long Distance

If the custodial parent lives in Texas, and the non-custodial parent lives more than 100 miles away, the Texas Family Code provides specific provisions for the non-custodial parent’s visitation rights.

In such cases, the standard possession order allows for modified visitation schedules to accommodate the longer distance between the parents’ residences.

Under the standard possession order, when the non-custodial parent lives more than 100 miles away from the child’s primary residence, they are entitled to extended visitation periods during the summer months and on certain holidays.

The extended visitation typically includes:

  • Summer Visitation – The non-custodial parent has the right to 42 consecutive days of visitation during the summer. The default period is adjusted to June 15th through July 27th. However, if the non-custodial parent gives written notice to the custodial parent by April 1st, requesting a different period for summer visitation, the visitation period may be adjusted.
  • Holidays – The non-custodial parent may have the right to extended visitation during holidays, such as spring break and Christmas break, to ensure ample time for meaningful parenting.

To facilitate the visitation schedule, the court order may address matters like transportation arrangements and costs. For instance, it may specify how the child will be transported between the parents’ homes for visitation and how travel expenses will be divided between the parties.

Contact Bineham & Gillen!

Summer child custody arrangements can be challenging at times, especially for newly divorced families. If you are unable to create a reasonable summer timetable or are struggling to understand a court-ordered schedule, Bineham & Gillen is here to help. With over 30 years of experience in family law, we have the knowledge and experience you need to reach a fair and timely agreement.