Dealing with Holiday Child Visitation Issues in Texas

November 12th, 2014

The Holiday Season is usually an exciting time for both parents and children alike, but for families split by divorce or separation, the emotion issues from the result of the break-up on the affected family can cause the joy of the season to be overshadowed by much unhappiness and despair!

Unfortunately, most parents wait too long to confirm visitation planning for the upcoming holiday season and a very sad and unhappy family situation occurs.  Now is the time to contact Legal Counsel if you cannot work out or are otherwise being deprived of a holiday visitation by your Ex.

Children need to have structure in scheduling the Holiday Visitations to ensure that they will be able to see both parents and share the joy of the season with their entire family.  When this goes awry, the children are usually the ones who suffer.

The best gift of the holiday a child can experience is an early proactive arrangement of all holiday plans so everyone knows dates and times for visitation with both Mom and Dad.   This Holiday Season vow to keep your child out of the middle of any family conflict and start to develop new holiday traditions with your child and family.  Many parents have new relationships/marriages and other children in the family group. The new holiday traditions should include everyone and be a bonding experience for years to come.

Tips on Dealing with Holiday Visitation Issues

  • Make sure your children have positive holiday memories. Shield them from conflicts between warring ex-spouses.

  • Plan ahead now on scheduling the upcoming holiday visitations. Longer the wait, more stress involved!

  • If there is a deviation in holiday schedule this year, make sure it is in writing.  Make sure the document shows what times are being exchanged and both parents sign it for future confirmation.

  • Stay flexible and compromise: If you have to work, consider having the kids spend more time with the other parent so they have time with friends.  This is a time for new family traditions and changes from old habits.  Put aside your differences with your EX and make the children’s time happy with good memories.

  • If age appropriate, ask your children what is important to them during the holidays.  There may be a special place or event that is very important to them and try to accommodate this.

  • Sit back and enjoy the Holidays with your children.  This is a special time for wonderful bonding and beautiful memories. Do not undermine their holiday by hateful confrontations and fighting.

  • If a potential problem could arise on holiday visitation schedules, make sure you take action legally in plenty of time to consult a legal expert and get the conflict resolved before the holidays commence!

The Special Needs Child and Parents Going Through a Texas Divorce

November 3rd, 2014

Parents of a special needs child face many challenges while raising and nurturing their child.  Many marriages falter and end in divorce due to the stressful demands required of parents with a special needs child. The stressors and emotional pressure that exists prior to the initiation of a divorce frequently accelerates during the divorce process. A special needs child is seriously affected by their parental decisions made during a divorce.

A divorce does not bring out the best in any couple. In the case of a special needs child, thoughtful and prudent care of the child should always be the main objective of both parents so the child knows that he/she is loved by both parents and is not at risk.  A special needs child will experience serious emotional and behavioral problems during this time becoming more vulnerable and not knowing what is happening in life.  The child is often afraid that he/she is losing Mom and Dad due to false and misplaced self-imposed guilt.

Many parents have already struggled with questions surrounding their child’s special needs such as correct diagnoses or the validly of treatments for their child’s conditions.  During serious custody battles, such concerns become the focus of intense parental conflicts.

Some of the more serious concerns are:

  • A child’s reactions to overly permissive or excessively rigid parenting

  • Use and dosage of prescribed medicines for a diagnosed problem

  • Proper diagnosis being made by a competent professional

  • Whether a professional label and diagnosis will be noted in school records

  • Whether a child be placed in special education classes for leaning or emotional disabilities. Whether one parent is so occupied with the special need child that the parent has lost perspective on how to best manage the child

Often one parent accepts a child’s diagnosis given by the specialist and actively advocates for the child, while the other parent may remain in denial of the child’s obvious needs. Which parent is actually and consistently working in the child’s best interests?

Special efforts are needed when setting up possession schedules for your special needs child. Both parents must understand the nature of the child’s physical/emotional problems and the level that the child can function.  When the child spends time in each parent’s home, both parents must reasonably work together and agree on a parenting approach that addresses the child’s needs.

When parents cannot agree upon the child’s actual needs and course of care, the court may appoint a specialist to conduct a complete evaluation of the child.  From this evaluation the specialist will offer specific opinions to the parents and court regarding the nature of the child’s special needs and specifically address these needs.

In a divorce involving a special needs child many joint decisions are critical to and impact a child’s self-esteem.  Other family issues and problems may need to temporally be put aside between the parents to assure a special needs child will fully receive the attention needed.  We suggest that in the divorce decree a parenting plan be included setting out specific provisions for the care of the child.

Some suggested items to include in this Plan would be:

  • Can the child be cared for in the home or an outside facility and how would these costs be covered?

  • Medical, educational, and therapeutic interventions and decision making authority

  • Treatments not covered by insurance. Who is responsible as to the authority and cost?

  • Working with the child’s school to implement plans for the educational needs of the child.

  • Care decisions on parents’ ability to work outside the home with a special needs child

  • Handling of Lifetime care and support and the cost necessary for the special needs child

2014 Holiday Visitation With Your Children: Better Be Checking the Visitation Schedule Twice and Not Naughty But Nice

October 20th, 2014

Now is the time to start working on your Holiday 2014 Schedule for visitation with your children during this wonderful time of year! We would suggest that you review your individual order to see if you have specific provisions concerning visitation.  Because many families have specific situations that occur during this special time, this visitation time is the most modified area in the Standard Possession Order. The Holiday schedule will always override the Thursday or Weekend schedules.

Here is a reminder of the current Texas Family Law Code’s Standard Possession Order for the Holidays.

  • 153.314. Holiday Possession Unaffected by Distance Parents Reside Apart.
    The following provisions govern possession of the child for certain specific holidays and supersede conflicting weekend or Thursday periods of possession without regard to the distance the parents reside apart. The possessory conservator and the managing conservator shall have rights of possession of the child as follows:

Texas Family Law Code’s Standard Visitation Guidelines for Christmas Break:
(1) the possessory conservator shall have possession of the child in even-numbered years beginning at 6 p.m. on the day the child is dismissed from school for the Christmas school vacation and ending at noon on December 28, and the managing conservator shall have possession for the same period in odd-numbered years;
(2) the possessory conservator shall have possession of the child in odd-numbered years beginning at noon on December 28 and ending at 6 p.m. on the day before school resumes after that vacation, and the managing conservator shall have possession for the same period in even-numbered years;

Texas Family Law Code’s Standard Visitation Guidelines for Thanksgiving:
(3) the possessory conservator shall have possession of the child in odd-numbered years, beginning at 6 p.m. on the day the child is dismissed from school before Thanksgiving and ending at 6 p.m. on the following Sunday, and the managing conservator shall have possession for the same period in even-numbered years;

Texas Family Law Code’s Standard Visitation Guidelines for Child’s Birthday:
(4) the parent not otherwise entitled under this standard order to present possession of a child on the child’s birthday shall have possession of the child beginning at 6 p.m. and ending at 8 p.m. on that day, provided that the parent picks up the child from the residence of the conservator entitled to possession and returns the child to that same place;

Texas Family Law Code’s Standard Visitation Guidelines for Father’s Day:
(5) if a conservator, the father shall have possession of the child beginning at 6 p.m. on the Friday preceding Father’s Day and ending on Father’s Day at 6 p.m., provided that, if he is not otherwise entitled under this standard order to present possession of the child, he picks up the child from the residence of the conservator entitled to possession and returns the child to that same place;

Texas Family Law Code’s Standard Visitation Guidelines for Mother’s Day:
(6) if a conservator, the mother shall have possession of the child beginning at 6 p.m. on the Friday preceding Mother’s Day and ending on Mother’s Day at 6 p.m., provided that, if she is not otherwise entitled under this standard order to present possession of the child, she picks up the child from the residence of the conservator entitled to possession and returns the child to that same place.

Texas child visitation orders may differ from the norm to accommodate family situations so you should always check your decree first! If in doubt about your holiday visitation time, contact a family law attorney who can help you to make sure nothing happens to affect this special season with your children. ‘Tis the Season To Be Jolly’!

Serving clients throughout Texas, including Collin, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Grayson, Kaufman, Rockwall and Tarrant counties and the communities of Addison, Allen, Arlington, Carrollton, Dallas, Fort Worth, Frisco, Garland, Grapevine, Highland Park, McKinney, Mesquite, Plano, Richardson, Rowlett and University Park, Murphy,Wylie, Lewisville, Flower Mound, Irving, along with surrounding DFW areas.