To some, April 1 and April 15 mean nothing more than practical jokes and another day of the month. To others, they are the dates by which one parent must give the other parent notice of the summer plans. While some may not want to plan their summer so early in the spring, it is imperative that parents that are subject to these arbitrary dates be mindful of them as they approach.
Standard Possession Order
The Standard Possession Order in the Texas Family Code provides that the non-custodial parent provide notice to the other parent of their summer designation by April 1. If designation is not made [in the case of the thirty-day summer possession], then the default provides that that parent will be designated the month of July. After the April 1 designation is made or defaulted, the custodial parent must make their summer designations by electing – (1) one weekend within the non-custodial parent’s extended summer possession to have the child from Friday to Sunday, and (2) one weekend of the non-custodial parents’ otherwise first, third and fifth weekends in the summer that they are entitled to trump, so to create their extended summer possession.
While the foregoing is what the Standard Possession Order [within 100 miles of the primary residence of the child] provides for, each possession order may have its own nuances that may affect the summer designations.
Custom Possession Orders
If you do not exercise a Standard Possession Order as described above, chances are that there are still summer possession provisions in your order that includes dates by which notice has to be given; all too often, these dates are also April 1 and April 15. Be sure to read the summer possession provisions of your order as some possession orders alternate even-year and odd-year elections, and some possession orders do not have default dates for failure to give notice. In the case where the order does not include default dates for failing to give notices, some courts have deemed the failure to give notice as a waiver of that year’s summer possession.
Be sure to read the entire order and provide notice in the manner specified in the order. Notice may be limited to or inclusive of any of the following methods for delivery – hand-written notice, e-mail, text message, mail or co-parenting messaging services (i.e. Our Family Wizard).
Once notice is given, through April 1 and April 15, both parents are entitled to rely on those notices for each period of possession stated. The parent receiving notice [unless otherwise stated in the order] does not get to veto the notice and summer election of the parent sending notice. Both parents must acknowledge the notices provided by the other parent and surrender possession accordingly or they could be subject to being held in contempt for withholding possession.