We are all social-distancing from each other and trying to stay home. We are home schooling, cooking at home, and watching Tiger King. Mostly we are just trying to co-exist in our own homes today. We aren’t thinking of what to do about summer, are we?

Well April 1st signals the day when parents under the Texas Standard Possession Schedule should start thinking about summertime. Even now, when the summertime seems so far away and we most likely will not be able to go much of anywhere out of the house much less on vacation for any period of time this summer, you still need to think about designating your summer period of possession.

April 1st is the deadline for the non-primary parent to designate your intended 30 days of extended summer possession is April 1stThe designation has to be in writing (email is fine). These 30 days can only be exercised in two periods of possession and each period of possession must be at least seven consecutive days.  Additionally, a parent’s extended summer possession can begin once school is dismissed and must end at least seven days before school resumes at the end of the summer.

The Texas Standard Possession Order awards a non-primary parent the 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekends of the summer months as well as 30 days extended summer possession in the summer.  The primary parent in turn gets to pick one of the 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekends, which would have been the non-primary parent’s weekend, to have possession of the children as well as one weekend during the non-primary parent’s 30 days of extended summer possession.

What happens if you miss the April 1st deadline? Should you not designate any extended summer possession dates by April 1st, generally the standard order provides the non-primary parent will automatically be entitled to July 1 – 31st that summer.

A question that is frequently asked is “can I use a weekend of summer possession in addition to my extended summer possession to make my time with the children 32 days?”  The answer is yes, you can.  However, keep in mind that the primary parent has until April 15th each year to designate a weekend period of possession that will occur during your regular 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekend as well as a weekend during your extended summer possession.

Another question that is often asked is, “Does the primary conservator have the ability to disagree with the dates that I have designated for my periods of summer possession and require that I select different dates?” No, the other parent doesn’t get to tell you to pick different dates (unless the dates designated improperly include Mother’s Day/Father’s Day weekend). It doesn’t work that way. The non-primary parent gets to designate first. Keep in mind that the primary conservator can select 1 weekend during this 30-day period to exercise his or her extended summer possession as discussed above.  Therefore, regardless of whether you are the primary or non-primary conservator, you should always wait until after the April 1 and April 15 designation deadlines to plan those summer vacations to make sure each parent has designated their periods.

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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.