texas standard possession order de-mystified – holiday possessions

I will finish up my series on the Texas Standard Possession order with a discussion on the holiday visits.  These holidays typically include Spring Break, Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Other “holidays” can include Father’s day, Mother’s day, children’s birthdays, Halloween, 4th of July, etc…  However, the standard is the first three.

I do not typically run into many issues with Holiday visits in my practice as they are pretty self explanatory.  They typically begin at the time the child is dismissed from school and end at 6:00 p.m. on the day before school and follow an odd and even year pattern.

I sometimes get asked why the possessions end at 6:00 p.m. and not on the following Monday morning as a standard weekend may end.  The only answer I can provide is that it is designed for the child to be able to unwind after the holiday and get back into the school routine prior to returning to school.  This is not to say that your order cannot say something different, this is just the standard language in Texas.

The pickup time “when the child is dismissed from school” used to be a source of controversy, especially around Thanksgiving.  Many schools would let out for the week of Thanksgiving which is easy to follow, but they would also schedule a teacher day or in-service day the Friday before the holiday week.  The confusion arose over whether this was actually the beginning of the holiday or not.  The Texas legislature recently fixed that problem by confirming that the in-service day was indeed the beginning of the “holiday”.

That is about all I have on the Texas standard possession order and holidays.  If my readers have some general comments or questions, I would be happy to answer them under the comments section.

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87 Responses to texas standard possession order de-mystified – holiday possessions

  1. Tonya November 5, 2010 at 5:47 pm #

    So if the child is under 3 and not in school but the papers so my ex can pick her up when school gets out on his days of the weekend…. can he… She isn’t in school or of school age so does school apply to her?

  2. Chris Schmiedeke November 8, 2010 at 8:34 am #

    If an order designates that a parent picks up after school or when school lets out for a holiday, and the child is not school age, then you simply follow the school calendar for the public school the child would attend if in school. If the elementary school they would attend lets out at 3:00 p.m. then the pickup time is 3:00 p.m. If the holiday for the school district is the Wednesday before thanksgiving then that is when the pickup is for purposes of the thanksgiving holidays. The same applies to the rest of the holidays.

  3. Tonya November 15, 2010 at 12:59 pm #

    But does he have the right to pick her up at daycare?

  4. Tonya November 15, 2010 at 12:59 pm #

    But does he have the right to pick her up at daycare?

  5. Jerae December 14, 2010 at 12:40 pm #

    I have a holiday general question for you that I am not clear on and many others may be confused as well…
    My standard papers state the noncustodial parent will get my child this year for Christmas (even numbered). The “christmas break holiday” is to begin on such and such date the child is dismissed from school and will end on December 28th at 6 pm. Easy enough to understand… my child will be allowed to spend almost 2 weeks with the noncustodial parent.
    Now, here is where the confusion comes in. The noncustodial parent voiced to me last night that he does not wish to have my child the full two weeks. He would like to have him both weekends that are jammed into this allotted time, back to back weekends, but not the full allotted time frame painted out for him. Do I have to abide to his request and rearrange my holiday break around him OR when the noncustodial parent returns my child, is he basically forfeiting the remainder of his allotted time– like if he were to return my child on a Saturday afternoon vs. at 6pm on Sunday on his regular weekend schedule?
    I am so confused and do not want to be in contempt or refuse my child visitation, however, I do not see it fair to cancel my “out of town” plans to accommodate his wants– I would just prefer to take my child with me out of town because I will not be back into town before the 2nd weekend he has requested to have my child available for pick up.

  6. Chris Schmiedeke December 16, 2010 at 8:41 am #

    The non-custodial parent’s visitation starts when the school is dismissed for Christmas and ends at noon on December 28, 2010. You are responsible for providing the child for visitation when school lets out. If the non-custodial parent brings the child home early then they have effectively ended their visitation as you are not under a court order to provide the child at any other time than when school lets out. In your case, if the child is brought back that weekend, under a standard visitation order, you are not required to provide the child again for visitation until January 7th (first Friday of the month), after the Christmas holiday.

    It is always best to work out arrangements by agreement in these situations. Perhaps additional time when you get back in town or something. Try to be reasonable.

    I hope I answered your question.

  7. Leslie July 29, 2011 at 2:25 pm #

    My question refers to Halloween. It falls on a Monday this yr and I would like to take my stepson trick or treating. Does halloween fall under the definition of a federal, state, or local holiday so that we could at least take him trick or treating early before taking back at six or must we give him back on sunday at 6? Also, if his mother agrees to letting us have him via text, can she change her mind? For example, we pick him up on friday and ask to keep him til monday night, she says ok but sunday comes round and she wants him back at 6…

  8. Suzanna January 10, 2012 at 8:03 am #

    How does holiday, spring and summer visitation apply to children under 3? we have step ups in our order and the NCP does not have overnights until 18 months old and I do not see where there is anything lined out for holiday and summer posessions before my daughter turns 18 months

  9. Chris Schmiedeke January 10, 2012 at 7:36 pm #

    Suzanna, your order controls. There is no set standard for children under three, just guidelines. If there are not provisions in your order dealing with the holidays then you may need to get an attorney and modify your order so there is no confusion.

  10. Doug March 3, 2012 at 6:21 pm #

    My ex is considerably wealthier than me. She does not work and can stay home with our three boys, ages 6, 4 1/2, and 2 1/2. she has help each day as well as it is hard (i’m not being sarcastic, its tough) raising 3 boys. However, I do work full time and do not get most holidays kids get off for school. i.e. Columbus Day, Presidents Day, etc…The school the older two attend celebrates all of those types holidays and teacher in service. I am not the custodial parent. I want my boys as much as I can get them. However, I can’t take off those days, my elected holiday each year, and two weeks in the summer and expect my employer to be okay. She has since told me she plans on working at her dads company part time and i will need me to include those days from now on b/c they are in our divorce, and b/c they fall on 1,3,5 weekends. Can I just say no, and not lose any rights? Still keep the regular part of the weekends?

  11. Mike March 26, 2012 at 9:11 am #

    Am I required to pick my children up on the designated days? If I am unable to due to work, are there any negative consequences?

  12. Chris Schmiedeke March 26, 2012 at 9:26 am #

    It shouldn’t be if you give notice that you are unable to exercise and it does not become a regular occurrence. Good luck.

  13. Chris Schmiedeke March 26, 2012 at 9:28 am #

    You can take the time she is offering, but you will have to make arrangements for their care during the day. If you do not, I am not sure whether that would be used against you or not. Failure to exercise court ordered visitation on a regular basis can be grounds to later modify and reduce the amount of time. Good luck to you.

  14. Mike March 26, 2012 at 11:11 am #

    Thank you. My predicament specifically is during the summer months. I am supposed to have them for 1 month, however, due to work circumstances I cannot do this. I have no problem continuing the 1/3/5 schedule during the summer, but 1 month is not possible for me especially if I were to have them during the week.

  15. Patty June 19, 2012 at 6:53 pm #

    I get possession Thanksgiving this year starting friday Nov 16th when school lets out… however… this falls on a 3rd weekend. Does this mean that her dad still gets her thursday until school lets out on friday (she’s not in school)?

  16. Wendell October 4, 2012 at 10:41 am #

    Is Columbus day considered a possession holiday? Most school are out or in service but some aren’t. Does this holiday have to be specified in the order to be considered a possession holiday?

  17. Chris Schmiedeke October 4, 2012 at 12:26 pm #

    If the child is in school, then it is a normal day. If the child is out of school, and it is a standard possession order, the non-custodial parent would get that day pursuant to the extended weekend section in the order.

  18. Greg October 7, 2012 at 11:37 pm #

    My wife and I are filing an uncontested divorce and have mutually agreed upon a 50/50 custody schedule. We’re filling out the forms ourselves, but none of the forms we find online seem to allow for anything other than the standard possession order. They all say something like:

    “The Court ORDERS that Home Parent and Co-Parent shall have possession of the child/ren at any and all times mutually agreed to in advance by Home Parent and Co-Parent. In the absence of mutual agreement, the Court ORDERS that Home Parent and Co-Parent shall have possession of the child/ren as ordered below.”

    However, there doesn’t seem to be a place to fill in a mutually agreed upon schedule. Can we just fill out a spreadsheet with our schedule and attach it to this form?

  19. Lena October 15, 2012 at 2:58 pm #

    What exactly does “Notwithstanding the weekend and Thursday periods of possession, ” mean during holiday visitations? It says I get them odd year Thanksgiving from when school is out until it resumes. Does their Dad still get them on his weekend and Thursday visit? Thanks

  20. Korey December 12, 2012 at 12:59 pm #

    If the father has my son for Christmas and his school gets out on the 14th for Christmas break, he gets him at 6 that Friday and has to bring him back on the 28th at 12. But do I get to have my son on Thursdays from 6 to 8 like he normally gets to? Or does he just get him for the straight 2 weeks?

  21. Chris Schmiedeke January 8, 2013 at 9:33 am #

    Holiday visitations trump all other thursday and weekend visits. If it was your Christmas, he would not get his Thursdays or his standard weekends if it conflicted with your holiday possession.

  22. Chris Schmiedeke January 8, 2013 at 9:37 am #


  23. Samantha Jones May 28, 2013 at 3:28 pm #

    Can the non-custodial parent attach his summer possession days to the normal summer weekends he would get (1st, 3rd, 5th)?

    My order says the non-custodial gets summer possession for 30 days exercised in two periods separated by at least 7 days. If worked magically, it takes 15 days to 19 days in one possession period. It also gives the custodial parent (me) only 4 weekends over the summer and the non-custodial parent 9 weekends.

  24. SadGrandma July 14, 2013 at 5:41 pm #

    Why is the 4th of July holiday not addressed in standard orders of possession in Texas? Because my grandson’s father gets him for the entire month of July, it appears he will never have the opportunity to be with his mother to go watch fireworks. His father does not do anything special for this holiday, but it has always been a big event in our family, and my grandson was heartbroken that he didn’t get to go with us to watch fireworks this year. They include Halloween in the possession order, but not Independence Day. This is America. Shouldn’t that be an important holiday to consider for possession?

  25. TY November 19, 2013 at 9:01 pm #

    Chris, You stated: The Texas legislature recently fixed that problem by confirming that the in-service day was indeed the beginning of the “holiday”.

    Which session was this? Trying to find when and where they confirmed this?

  26. levenia November 22, 2013 at 12:49 pm #

    i want to know about the word notwithstanding it is my weekend but the other parent gets thanksgiving holiday does that mean i still get my baby this weekend?

  27. TexasTexasTexas December 17, 2013 at 4:01 am #

    The school JUST decided to let out a day earlier for the state football playoffs. We were supposed to have my stepsons Thurs night and her Christmas break possession started Fri at noon. Now the mom says we don’t get the boys Thurs since school was called off Friday.

    Please help, I know this is a shot in the dark.

  28. Chris Schmiedeke February 3, 2014 at 1:45 pm #

    Standard possession order weekends do not occur during standard possession order holidays in Texas.

  29. Chris Schmiedeke February 3, 2014 at 1:45 pm #

    Sorry, I do not recall. It was in the last few years.

  30. Jarrod January 1, 2015 at 9:25 pm #

    Mom has possession starting after Christmas on Dec. 28 through the day before school starts back up again. That day falls on the Sunday after her regular 1st Friday of the month weeklong possession begins. Does Mom get to finish her normal week of possession and get back on the week on/off schedule? Or does “end of possession” mean the child goes back to Dad for the remainder of Mom’s regular 1st Friday week as well as Dad’s 2nd Friday week?

  31. Chris Schmiedeke January 20, 2015 at 10:32 am #

    Jarrod, it sounds like you do not have a standard visitation order, but a week on/week off type of arrangement. I would have to see your decree to be able to clearly identify each parties periods of possession.

  32. Sarah January 21, 2015 at 11:27 pm #

    This year is the Custodial Parents year for Spring Break visitation. In the orders it states that Spring Break visitation ends at 6pm the day before school resumes. This is on a 3rd weekend, the non custodial parents weekend. Does the non custodial parent gain possession at 6pm that Sunday or does that rule only apply for the custodial parent?

    Thank you!

  33. Chris Schmiedeke January 23, 2015 at 8:53 am #

    Holiday visits trump weekend visits. That means that any weekend visits that otherwise would have occurred despite the holiday do not occur. In a standard possession order, the custodial parent’s visitation doesn’t really “end” at that time since they will have possession of the child after the visit as well. However, when the non-custodial parents have the child for Spring Break, their visitation would end at 6:00 p.m.

  34. Cristal March 22, 2015 at 9:05 pm #

    I am the custodial parent I get to have my daughter for odd years for spring break. Those that mean he doesn’t get her for that Thursday from 6-8.

  35. Chris Schmiedeke March 23, 2015 at 7:44 am #

    Correct, holiday visits trump the weekly and standard weekend visits.

  36. nursetgarza April 3, 2015 at 7:38 am #

    If a standard possesion order is in place and the noncustodial parent has the child this weekend what is the rule on Easter? It is not defined by the order, so should the parent pick up the children at 6 on Friday or did they have to pick them up yesterday at 6? If the noncustodial did not pick them up on Thursday but did speak to the custodial parent on Thursday to arrange to pick them up on Friday can the custodial parent deny the visitation or take the children away froM the primary residence (out of town) making it impossible for the noncustodial parent to get the children? What is the code for possesion on Easter?

  37. Jonathan April 8, 2015 at 7:00 am #

    I have a question. I will try to explain the best way I can. Is the “Genral terms and Conditions” section part of the written order? My ex and I have a SPO, I’m ordered to pick up my child at 6:00 pm on my visitation days. As I continued to read I came across the last section of the order (General terms and conditions).

    ” Mother shall surrender child to father at the beginning of each period of possession at mothers home. If father elects to begin a period when the child is dismissed from school, mother shall surrender her at school. Father shall return the child to mothers residence at end of period, except that if fathers county of domicile remains the same after the rendition of this order and if mothers county of domicile should change, effective on the date of the change of domicile by mother, father shall surrender child to mother at end of period of possession at fathers residence. if father elects to end a period when the child resumes to school, father shall surrender child to mom at school.
    Each conservator shall return personal effects that the child brought……. etc..”

    Does this mean although im ordered to pick my child up at 6pm I can pick her up sooner? The only person who disagrees is my ex even though my child loves it when I do so. The same contract I had as a child is the same, except its older and a lot more thorough.

  38. Chris Schmiedeke April 22, 2015 at 3:05 pm #

    Unless you and the ex agree otherwise, your times to take possession are set out in the possession order. It appears your time is 6:00 p.m. To pick up after school or drop off at school, that election (or choice) would have had to have been made at the time the order was entered.

    Consult with a local attorney who can read your order and be sure.

  39. Chris Schmiedeke April 22, 2015 at 3:08 pm #

    I have no idea what you are referring to. What is “this weekend”? You give me no dates in which to reference your question. Easter possession is not automatically included in most Texas Standard Possession Orders. It would have had to have been added to your decree to apply. If it was not, then standard weekend rules apply.

    Talk to a local attorney who can answer your questions and review your order.

  40. runnergirl May 31, 2015 at 8:50 am #

    Child is 2 years old. The court order states the father gets visitation Thursdays during the regular school term. Since she is not in school, does this mean that there is no Thursday visitation in the summer months (according to local school schedule), or does the ‘regular school term’ statements refer to when the child begins going to primary school? I only want clarification because in March of next year, the Thursday changes to overnight, and if it’s during the regular term, he will be wanting to exercise that right.
    Thank you for your help.

  41. Chris Schmiedeke June 3, 2015 at 8:09 am #

    “During the school term” means just that. Thursdays when the kids are in school. Summers are not “during the school term” as they are out of school. Doesn’t matter whether they are actually in school or not, it goes by the school district that they would attend if they were in school.

  42. Dawn November 6, 2015 at 10:03 am #

    Hi, I have an 16 month old and her dad usually gets her per the court orders from noon on saturday until 6pm sunday on 2nd and 4th weekends of the month until she is 3. He is saying that the 4th weekend of the month the week of Thanksgiving (November 28th) is his weekend and he gets her. is that weekend considered a holiday weekend and trumps his standard visitation? he is not getting his other kids that weekend and just being difficult with me. And hes treatening contempt if I dont let him have her that weekend.

  43. Chris Schmiedeke November 6, 2015 at 11:05 am #

    I’m sorry, but I cannot answer your question without reviewing your order. You do not have a standard visitation order so it is impossible for me to comment on your specific terms. You need to speak with an attorney in your area, or if you would like for me to review your decree, I would be happy to do so for a flat fee. If you need further assistance you can contact me via the contact form on this site. Good luck.

  44. Ashley November 17, 2015 at 9:09 am #

    I have a question as to what this statement in a standard order means; “The parent not otherwise entitled under this order to present possession of a child on the child’s birthday shall have possession of the child beginning at 6pm and ending at 8pm on that day”.
    My question is, who exactly is the “parent not otherwise entitled to present possession” would that be the parent receiving the child for the Thursday and weekend visits or is this meaning whomever is entitled to time with the child on their birthday?
    I have researched it and found it broken down and explained as “On the child’s birthday the parent that does not have regularly scheduled possession gets possession from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.” Which to means that the only parent that gets possession of the child from 6-8 on their birthday would be the parent that has only weekend and Thursday visitation and not the parent that has the child for the bulk (for lack of better terms) of other possession periods. Am I wrong for interrupting this in this way?


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