hen parents separate, it can often lead to difficult decisions about where the children will spend their holidays. Many families have holiday traditions that involve extended family and attending holiday events together. Here, we will explain how Texas law addresses the holidays once parents have separated and divorced.

The child’s best interest will always be the primary concern when splitting the holidays. Texas law has a visitation schedule called the “Standard Possession Order,” which is presumed to be best for the child. The Standard Possession Order addresses the following holidays and other special days: (1) Christmas/Winter Break, (2) Thanksgiving, (3) Spring Break, (4) Mother’s Day Weekend, (5) Father’s Day Weekend, and (6) the child’s birthday. The Standard Possession Order does not address any other holidays such as Easter, the Fourth of July, or Memorial Day.

With the exception of Father’s Day and Mother’s Day weekends, the Standard Possession Order generally alternates holidays between even and odd years. So, if one parent has the Thanksgiving holiday in 2023, the other parent will have the Christmas holiday in 2023. In the following year, 2024, the parents will flip the Thanksgiving and Christmas periods of possession. Additionally, because the Christmas school break is so long, the parents will switch possession approximately half-way through that vacation period. Currently, this occurs on December 28th. Under the Standard Possession Order, the parents will also alternate that Spring Break every year.

These holidays periods of possession also generally coincide with the child’s school holidays. The Spring Break, Christmas, and Thanksgiving periods of possession all begin and end according to the child’s school calendar.

The Standard Possession Order is the starting point for holiday possession schedules. There are two ways to change this schedule. First, the parents can agree to change the schedule. Second, the parents can ask a judge to order a different schedule. For instance, one parent may have a tradition of spending Memorial Day at a family reunion. If the child has attended the family reunion in the past and had a positive experience, the parties may agree that the child can continue to attend. Other families have traditions that require attendance at religious events. Again, the parties can agree to a possession schedule to accommodate these events. If they are unable to agree, a parent can ask a judge to order that schedule.

Spending time apart from children during the holidays and vacations can be difficult, particularly in the first few years following the divorce. The Standard Possession Order is designed to ensure that the child spends time with both parents during vacation time from school. If you have concerns about holiday possession, this is something that we here at Thompson Salinas Londergan are ready to discuss.

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