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.
Who is the Primary Conservator vs. 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.
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 their approval. A possession schedule must be in the child’s best interests to be approved by the judge.
What is a Standard Possession Order (PSO) 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 (PSO).
Courts in Texas presume that a Standard Possession Order is in the best interests of the children. Many divorced parents opt for a PSO instead of crafting their own customized possession schedule.
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 non-custodial parent to spend time with the kids 48% of the time.
What is Extended Summer Possession in 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.
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 select up to 42 days.
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.
How Does the Possessory Conservator Select Days for Extended Summer Possession?
Regardless of whether the conservators live more or less than 100 miles apart, the non-custodial parent is required to give written notice to the custodial parent by April 1 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; or
From June 15 to July 27 if the parents live more than 100 miles apart.
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.
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.
You can have the child on one weekend for up to 48 hours (e.g., from Friday 7 pm to Sunday 7 pm) if the other parent chooses at least one 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 conservatory 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.