Thanksgiving divorceHoliday season always seems to sneak up on us. In the blink of an eye, you go from carving pumpkins and picking out Halloween costumes to feasting on turkey and stringing Christmas lights. Now with Thanksgiving just around the corner, the holiday rush really begins. From planning the family gatherings, grocery shopping, endless hours of cooking, and, my favorite, Christmas shopping, I am sure everyone’s to do list is overflowing. However, do not forget to make it a priority to check your divorce decree or current court order regarding holiday possession. During the holidays, the last thing a parent needs is a disagreement regarding the holiday possession.

 In Texas, holiday possession generally supersedes your regular weekly possession. The Texas Family Code provides that conservators alternate Thanksgiving possession each year, with the Thanksgiving possession beginning at 6:00 p.m. on the day your child is dismissed from school for the Thanksgiving break and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the following Sunday. Many times parents have chosen to elect the alternate periods of possession, which could mean that the Thanksgiving holiday periods of possession begin at the time the child’s school is dismissed for the Thanksgiving break. If your child’s Thanksgiving break begins on the Friday before Thanksgiving, then the parent who has the right to possession of the child for the Thanksgiving period will have possession that weekend. It is important to note this because it is easy to forget that the regular scheduled weekend possession before Thanksgiving may be superseded by the holiday possession schedule.

Additionally, many times divorce decrees and court orders have provisions that allow parents to mutually agree to possession dates and times that differ from the possession schedule provided in the order. In the spirit of the season, it is always encouraged that parents work with another on possession arrangements that ultimately serve their children’s best interest. If you come to an agreement on the holiday possession that differs from your current court order, make sure that agreement is clear to both sides. Nothing interrupts holiday cheer like a trip to the courthouse, to make possession clear. Far too many times, we see clients in a frenzy over a conflict on the breakdown of the holiday possession because they made outside agreements and now one parent is not following that agreement. Making these agreements in writing is encouraged because it reduces the likelihood of confusion and misunderstanding.

So let this Thanksgiving be one that is focused on family, while making the center of that focus your child. Remember, working out differences peacefully and amicably benefits everyone. The biggest recipient of that benefit being your child. Gobble Gobble! Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

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Photo of Michelle O'Neil Michelle O'Neil

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes…

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes genuine compassion for her client’s difficulties, yet she can be relentless when in pursuit of a client’s goals. One judge said of Ms. O’Neil, “She cannot be out-gunned, out-briefed, or out-lawyered!”

Family Law Specialist

Ms. O’Neil became a board-certified family law specialist by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 1997 and has maintained her certification since that time. While representing clients in litigation before the trial court is an important part of her practice, Ms. O’Neil also handles appellate matters in the trial court, courts of appeals and Texas Supreme Court. Lawyers frequently consult with Ms. O’Neil on their litigation cases about specialized legal issues requiring particularized attention both at the trial court and appellate levels. This gives her a unique perspective and depth of perception that benefits both her litigation and appellate clients.

Top Lawyers in Texas and America

Ms. O’Neil has been named to the list of Texas SuperLawyers for many years, 2011-2018, a peer-voted honor given to only about 5% of the lawyers in the state of Texas. In 2014-2018, Ms. O’Neil received the special honor of being named by Texas SuperLawyers as one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers in Texas, Top 100 Lawyers in Texas, and Top 100 Lawyers in DFW. She was named one of the Best Lawyers in America for 2016 and received an “A-V” peer review rating by Martindale-Hubbell Legal Directories for the highest quality legal ability and ethical standards.

Author and Speaker

A noted author, Ms. O’Neil released her second book Basics of Texas Divorce Law in November 2010, with a second edition released in 2013, and a third edition expected in 2015.  Her first book, All About Texas Law and Kids, was published in September 2009 by Texas Lawyer Press. In 2012, Ms. O’Neil co-authored the booklets What You Need To Know About Common Law Marriage In Texas and Social Study Evaluations.  The State Bar of Texas and other providers of continuing education for attorneys frequently enlist Ms. O’Neil to provide instruction to attorneys on topics of her expertise in the family law arena.