Coparents Must Notify Each Other of Summer Plans Within the Next Few Weeks
After the year we’ve all had, it’s hard not to spend hours thinking about summer, which seems to be the light at the end of this coronavirus tunnel. While most of us are still in the daydreaming stages of our summertime plans, coparents following standard possession orders must begin finalizing their summer schedules and informing the other parent of when they plan to spend time with their children.
First, a Word About Titles for Parents and Those in the Shoes of Parents
The Texas Family Code provides that Texas courts should aim to keep both parents involved in their child’s life. As a result, it’s presumed that parents will be designated as joint conservators. Joint conservatorships allow parties to share the responsibilities of raising the child and making decisions about their health, education, and general wellbeing.
However, while both parents retain these broad rights, generally only one is allowed to decide the child’s primary residence – the Primary Joint Managing Conservator. The other parent is considered the Non-Primary Joint Managing Conservator. The provisions in the Family Code for visitation do not refer to Joint Managing Conservators but to Managing and Possessory Conservators. The time options for Managing Conservators are generally what the Primary Joint Managing Conservator is awarded. The Non-Primary Conservator is often awarded the time designated in the Family Code for a Possessory Conservator. This blog is meant to remind parents to look at your decree and make your plans and provide your notifications. If in doubt, make an appointment with a qualified family lawyer to review your order.
Summer Notice Deadlines
Texas coparents following standard visitation orders need to inform each other of their summer plans in just a few weeks. Parents should provide written notice by the following dates:
- Non-Primary Joint Managing Conservators must inform the other parent of summer plans by April 1
- Primary Joint Managing Conservators must inform the non-primary parent of their chosen weekend or weekends of custody by April 15
This notice must be in writing. You may send it in an email or by standard mail as indicated in your decree.
Non-Primary Joint Managing Conservators Give Notice by April 1
Non-Primary Joint Managing Conservators have the right to schedule up to 30 consecutive days of visitation in their choice of one or two periods. If the parent opts for two periods of time, each term must last for at least 7 consecutive days.
There are some rules in the Family Code for this period of possession:
- The period cannot begin before the first full day of summer vacation
- The period cannot end less than seven days before school resumes for the fall term
- There can be no more than two separate periods of at least seven consecutive days
- The periods begin and end at 6:00 p.m.
The exact dates for the non-primary parent’s proposed periods of possession must be outlined in their notice by April 1.
Default Time When Non-Primary Joint Managing Conservators Do Not Give Notice by April 1
If a Non-Primary Joint Managing Conservator missed the April 1 deadline, they will not be able to select their choice of dates during which they will have visitation unless they receive the Primary Joint Managing Conservator’s approval. Instead, the non-primary parent will be given one default term of visitation. This period:
- Lasts for 30 consecutive days
- Begins at 6:00 p.m. on July 1
- Ends at 6:00 p.m. on July 31
Parents Who Live More Than 100 Miles Apart
In the event that the Non-Primary Joint Managing Conservator lives more than 100 miles away from the Primary Joint Managing Conservator, they may choose up to 42 days during the summer for visitation. If they fail to inform the primary parent of these decisions by April 1, they will be given a default visitation period from June 15 until July 27.
Primary Joint Managing Conservators Give Notice by April 15
The primary conservator is awarded one weekend during the Non-primary conservator’s exclusive summer possession and one of their regular summer weekends. This allows them to see their child during a long absence and to put together several weeks to have their own extended summertime. The Primary Joint Managing Conservator is allowed to have a weekend or two of visitation with their child during the Non-Primary Joint Managing Conservator’s exclusive time. If the non-primary parent elects to have the child for up to 30 consecutive days in no more than two periods, the Primary Joint Managing Conservator may select any one weekend during that extended time to spend with the child. If they are more than 100 miles apart and the period is 42 days the Primary Joint Managing Conservator may choose two weekends in which they can take the child. If you don’t give notice, there is no default weekend.
- Begins at 6:00 p.m. on Friday
- Ends at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday
- Requires the Primary Joint Managing Conservator to pick up and drop off the child from the Non-Primary Joint Managing Conservator’s location
- Cannot occur in two consecutive weekends
- Cannot interfere with Father’s Day weekend
There is a recently added provision to the Family Code that generally provides that if the Non-Primary Joint Managing Conservator is going to be away from home on the weekend selected by the Primary Joint Managing Conservator, they must give timely notice of where the child will be on that weekend. Your decree may not have this provision.
There is an Additional Weekend for Primary Joint Managing Conservators
The Primary Joint Managing Conservator may elect to preempt one of the regular weekends of the Non-Primary Joint Managing Conservator providing 14 days’ notice. This allows the creation of an uninterrupted block of time to spend with the child, as long as it does not interfere with the extended time or Father’s Day weekend.
We cannot express enough the importance of reading the specific terms of your decree to determine what is required of you. Unless your divorce decree or final order specifies an alternative date, you must have your plans finalized by these April deadlines. Start your summer planning today, and call our attorneys for help informing your coparent of your decisions: (713) 322-9810.