Summer is here! Time for vacations, outdoors, and fun. Most kids are out of school and most parents are able to take time off from work. If you have a parentage agreement or court order with your child’s other parent, chances are you have extended summer parenting time that you can spend with your child. Many parents, especially non-custodial parents (or NCP’s) do not exercise their summer break times with their kids. They may either not know they have this privilege or do not understand the benefits. Below are top 4 reasons to exercise your extended summer breaks. **Note, because most Texas parents have standard possession orders (SPOs) in their court ordered parenting plans or divorce decrees, the following will presume a standard possession order summer possession schedule. To see a sample of the complete terms of a standard possession order, visit here.**
#4. Summer Possession time is special from the rest of the year.
Your summer possessions are special because they are long. Under an SPO, if you are a non-custodial parent and live within 100 miles from the child, you can select up to 30 consecutive summer days to spend with your kid (although the custodial parent can elect one weekend during your time). For example, you could select June 15 to July 15 for your extended summer possession period (the custodial parent could elect a weekend around the 4th of July with the child). A custodial parent also gets to select an extended period of summer possession under an SPO. She can pick one of the traditional 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekends typically reserved for the non-custodial parent. This election basically lets the custodial parent have up to 2 weeks of continuous summer possession with the child.
Summer periods of possession are so long, under an SPO, if you are a non-custodial parent, you must elect your consecutive days by April 1 of each year and give the other parent written notice (April 15 or 14-days notice if you are the custodial parent). But what if you miss your notice deadline? Per an SPO, your dates are chosen for you if you do not select your days on time. If you live within 100 miles from the child, you get July 1 to July 30. For parents living outside 100 miles, it’s June 15 to July 27.
Summer possession time is also special because it traditionally coincides with the Father’s day season. Since most non-custodial parents are fathers, fathers get an added opportunity to impact their child’s life by spending additional time with them. Father-son bonding or daddy-daughter time is much easier to facilitate during this time of year.
#3. Vacation options for kids are much more plentiful during summer breaks.
Since they are long, summer periods of possession make for more flexible and unique parenting times. There are an abundance of ways parents can enjoy time with their kids. From theme parks to cruises, parents have more opportunities for travel. Air travel, which typically is out of the question during the regular school year, suddenly becomes a viable option. In a country such as the United States, the sky is the limit where parents can take their kids outside of their individual state. National parks, historic places, beaches, museums, etc., plenty of options exist. Don’t forget local and in-state destinations. Lots of free and inexpensive destinations abound. International travel is even possible during long summer breaks. A visit to Europe, a family-trip to Nigeria, extended periods of possession provide great opportunities for international travel.
#2. You’re in more control over your possession time.
A parent can feel very empowered to finally have an extended period of time with their child without having to rush their kid back to the other parent. Extended summer periods of possession allows you to create flexible custom schedules for the time you’ll spend with your own child. Perhaps you like slow and quite lazy summer days. Perhaps you prefer quick and busy vacation periods. Or perhaps a combination of both. Regardless, it’s your choice. Exercising your extended summer periods of possession gives you more control over how to exercise your time with your child.
#1. Your kids are worth it.
In theory, a parent with a Texas standard possession order has no more than 17 periods of extended periods of summer possession. In the blink of an eye a child is an 18 year old adult with their own choice on whether to spend time with their parents. What you do with your summer periods of possession says a lot. Your summer possession times are different from the normal 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekend routine. They are longer in scope allowing you time to actually plan and make memories with your child. Your child deserves it. Many parents who do not exercise their summer possessions claim it’s because of conflict with the other parent or emotional distance from the child. The solution is to begin exercising your summer possessions early and consistently. Don’t promise your child a trip to Disney World, and then let them down. Do make plans and follow through year after year. If you have an SPO, there is no better time than now to start enjoying your kids for your extended summers.
Tips & Common Things to Remember
- Give Notice
- If you’re serious about seeing your kids for the summer, give your notice of extended possession dates to the other parent by the required deadlines. This applies to both the custodial parent and non-custodial parent. Get your dates in, otherwise accept the default summer possession dates if you have a standard possession order.
- Check School Calendars
- If you have a standard possession order regarding when your summer possession periods can begin and end, be sure to check your child’s local school district vacation calendar for when school goes out for summer break and when school resumes for the fall. This will help avoid confusion and help you select appropriate vacation planning dates. For parents living in Southeast Texas, some sample school district calendars are maintained on Yourchildsupportlawyer.com here (some example calendars include Houston ISD, Fort Bend ISD, and Cypress Fairbanks ISD).
- No Weekly Dinners and Father’s & Mother’s Days go on
- Remember there are no weekly (usually Thursdays) 6pm-8pm dinner possessions during the summer under an SPO. Weekly dinner possessions are usually reserved for the regular school year.
- Extended summer periods of possession won’t affect Father’s or Mother’s Days. Each parent can still exercise their respective dates regardless of when the other parent elects their summer breaks.
- Enforce Your Rights
- You can enforce your summer possession. If you elect to exercise your summer possession rights, know that you can enforce them if you are prevented from carrying them out. A disagreeable ex can make exercising your summer parenting times difficult. Seek out a qualified family law attorney to protect your rights.