christmasMy favorite holiday of the year is officially almost here – Christmas! With schools beginning Christmas school vacations for students this week or early next week, parents should plan accordingly with their holiday possession schedule for their children. So make sure to check your children’s school calendar to know the date and time they get dismissed. If your children are not in school, then look at the school calendar for the school district you live in.

In Texas, generally the non-primary conservator will have possession of the child in even-numbered years beginning at the time the child’s school is regularly dismissed for the Christmas school vacation and ending at noon on December 28 of that given year. Then the primary conservator will have possession of the child beginning at noon on December 28 and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the day before school resumes after the Christmas school vacation. In odd-numbered years the possession periods are generally switched for the parents. This means that the primary conservator will have possession of the child beginning at the time the child’s school is regularly dismissed for the Christmas school vacation and ending at noon on December 28 of that same year, and the non-primary conservator will have possession of the child beginning at noon on December 28 and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the day before school resumes after the Christmas school vacation. Many times we see conservators agree to ending their possession periods for the holidays on the day the child’s school regularly resumes after the Christmas school vacation. You should check your divorce decree or most current court order to see if that provision is in it.

Similar to other holidays, if you and the other parent conservator wish to make agreements regarding the possession schedule that differ from your divorce decree and/or most recent court order, you should put those agreements in writing to avoid confusion or conflict. Sometimes parents are in pending custody suits over the holidays. Some of the common questions we receive relate to confusion as to what order the parents are to follow regarding holiday possession. Unless you and the other parent have agreed otherwise, you should follow your most current court order governing the holiday possession schedule for your child (or children). For example, if you are involved in a pending suit to modify your custody arrangement and the most recent court order in place is your divorce decree, then that divorce decree will govern unless you and the other parent have come to another agreement regarding the holiday possession schedule.

We know the holidays can be a stressful time of year, but don’t let a custody dispute make it a disaster. Make sure to ask questions ahead of time so there is a clear possession schedule to follow over the holidays. Remember that this time of year can be challenging for children as well. Try to work together with the other parent to make this time of year magical and happy for your children so they can create their own family holiday memories. We hope everyone enjoys the holidays and has a Merry Christmas!

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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.