DadAndDaughterWalkingOnBeach185To 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.

Notice

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).

Reliance

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.

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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.