Updated on August 23, 2022
Summer is thankfully on its way, and while most parents look forward to more downtime with their children during the summer, this is often especially true for divorced parents. However, summer visitation schedules and extended summer possession can be exceedingly complex and confusing due to several regulations that are unique to the Texas Family Code.
If you have questions about summer possession or visitation schedules, do not hesitate to reach out to a Copperas Cove child custody lawyer.
What Does Extended Summer Possession Mean?
If you and your former spouse or partner share custody rights following a divorce or separation, you may be aware of the term “extended summer possession.” But what does it mean in your particular case? What does extended summer possession mean for joint managing conservators after a Texas divorce?
Basically, extended summer possession is a period during a child’s summer break that allows the possessory conservator (the parent who is not the primary conservator) to live with the kids. The period comes in addition to the parent’s regular first, third, and fifth weekend periods of possession.
Extended summer possession is part of the Standard Possession Order (SPO), which is the default child custody order after Texas divorces. If you wonder whether or not your child custody order includes extended summer possession, it is essential to review your order.
Every child custody order is different and divorced parents have a right to agree upon a specific, non-default custody order that fits their needs and circumstances. It is critical to consult with a Copperas Cove child custody lawyer to determine whether or not extended summer possession applies to your situation.
What Is the Difference between the Primary Conservator and Possessory Conservator?
Before we continue our discussion about extended summer possession and Standard Possession Orders, it is important to make sure that you understand who is the primary and possessory conservator in child custody cases in Texas.
Most divorced parents in Texas are joint managing conservators, which means that they both share in the rights and responsibilities of parenting their children, including determining and participating in the kids’ health care, education, and general welfare. In other words, the parents confer on these issues.
Nevertheless, only one of you will determine the primary residence of your children. This is the determining factor between primary and possessory conservators:
A primary conservator, also known as the custodial parent, is the parent who has the exclusive right to designate the child’s primary residence. In other words, if the child lives with you most of the time, you are considered the primary conservator.
A possessory conservator, also known as the non-custodial parent, is the parent who does not live with the child the majority of the time but has a possession schedule. Non-custodial parents must adhere to the agreed-upon possession schedule to visit with the children.
Parents have a right to create their own possession schedule, which will be submitted to a judge for approval. A possession schedule must be in the child’s best interests to be approved by the judge.
What Is a Standard Possession Order (SPO) in Texas Child Custody Cases?
Texas courts must follow the Texas Family Code when making decisions regarding child custody, including appointing parents to be primary and possessory conservators. Texas law has a default child custody schedule, which is known as a Standard Possession Order (SPO).
Courts in Texas presume that a Standard Possession Order is in the best interests of the children. Many divorced parents opt for an SPO instead of crafting their own customized possession schedule. To learn if an SPO is right for you and your children, contact a Copperas Cove child custody attorney.
If parents adhere to the Standard Possession Order, the possessory conservator has children about 42% of the time. However, the law also suggests an expanded version of the default child custody order, which allows the possessory conservator to spend time with the kids 48% of the time.
What Is Extended Summer Possession in Texas?
The Texas Standard Possession Order contains what is known as extended summer possession. As its name implies, extended summer possession refers to the possessory parent living with the child for longer than usual during the child’s summer break.
Guidelines for Extended Summer Possession
Texas has default possession guidelines for extended summer possession that are based on how far apart the parents live:
If the primary and possessory conservators live less than 100 miles apart, the non-custodial parent can designate up to 30 days for their extended summer possession.
If the primary and possessory conservators live more than 100 miles apart, the possessory conservator can designate up to 42 days for their extended summer possession.
In Texas, extended summer possession can be broken down into two separate periods during the summer break. Alternatively, the non-custodial parent can have up to 30 or 42 consecutive days of extended summer possession. (Related: How to Develop a Custody Agreement That Works for Both Parents)
How Does the Possessory Conservator Select Days for Extended Summer Possession?
Optimizing your summer visitation schedule with your children can be complicated, but it is entirely worth it. Understanding how to select days for extended summer possession in Texas can make the process more manageable.
Regardless of whether the conservators live more or less than 100 miles apart, the non-custodial parent is required to give written notice in the form of a letter or electronic communication to the custodial parent by April 1 (unless otherwise designated in your Final Decree of Divorce) and specify which days they select for extended summer possession.
If the possessory conservator does not select the preferred days by the deadline, they will have to adhere to the standard schedule for extended summer possession:
From July 1 to July 31 if the parents live less than 100 miles apart
From June 15 to July 27 if the parents live more than 100 miles apart
If you don’t make changes to this schedule before April 1, the only way to alter the dates is to come to a mutual agreement with your ex.
If the non-custodial parent cannot exercise extended summer possession, they are required to give written notice to the custodial parent that they will not be able to exercise their possession for a specified period of the child’s summer break.
To ensure that things go smoothly, keep a record of the request and when it was sent. Further, don’t send the written request via your kids. You can also consult with a Copperas Cove child custody lawyer to make sure you are meeting all requirements for extended summer possession.
Can the Primary Conservator See the Kids During Extended Summer Possession?
A custodial parent may wonder, “Can I still see my children during the other parent’s extended summer possession?” The short answer is yes. If you are the primary conservator, you can spend time with the kids while the other parent exercises possession of your children.
You can have the child on one weekend for up to 48 hours (e.g., from Friday 7 p.m. to Sunday 7 p.m.) during a period of extended summer possession with less than 30 days.
If the possessory conservator selects more than 30 days in at least one period, the primary conservator can designate up to two weekends.
However, to be allowed to have the children on one specific weekend, you have to give written notice to the possessory conservator by April 15. The custodial parent can also designate up to 21 days of their extended summer possession as long as the designated period does not interfere with the other parent’s ability to exercise their extended summer possession.
Contact a Copperas Cove Child Custody Lawyer
Summer is coming, and you want to optimize the time you are able to spend with your children. If you are wondering how you can exercise extended summer possession as a primary or possessory conservator during your child’s break in Texas, consult with a Copperas Cove child custody attorney.
Our lawyers at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard can help you reach a consensus regarding extended summer possession in your child custody case. Book a FREE consultation with our Copperas Cove child custody lawyers by calling (254) 781-4222 or contacting us online.