The extreme weather we’ve experienced this week — and the loss of power and water for so many of our Texas neighbors that came with it — is astounding and hopefully once-in-a-lifetime. We’d hate for any of us who have had to endure the past week’s trials and tribulations to repeat it, as a lot of people’s days and nights were consumed by just surviving, enduring, and innovating to meet their basic needs.
But it does raise an issue — and perhaps a warning flag — about bad weather and how it can impact parenting time.
Bad Weather and the Texas Family Code
While we aren’t likely to have a weather event quite like this one anytime soon, we’ve already had snow in parts of Texas just a month before this storm, and there are plenty of weather events that can impact our ability to safely transport or even have children at home. If your AC goes out in August, for example, you could get kids to your house, but it could impact their safety — and it would likely be in the children’s best interest to be at a home with working AC.
If you’re at all concerned about how to handle parenting time in various bad weather situations, and want to figure out how to keep your kids safe and get makeup time, it’s possible to write language to that effect into your decree. The Texas Family Code has language regarding possession that keys off the school calendar and days of the week. But it doesn’t have standard language that covers what happens if a school declares a snow day on a day the kids are supposed to be dropped off by one parent and picked up by the other.
That means that in addition to following what’s in the decree, it’s best for everyone — especially the children — for parents to communicate when weather impacts their ability to adhere to the parenting schedule everyone’s following. It’s even better when parents can cooperate and work out trades between themselves, but at the very least, being upfront and professional in communicating delays can be quite helpful.
Be Honest About the Situation
That said, it’s also important to remember that weather shouldn’t serve as an excuse, especially if you’re using it as part of a lie or an exaggeration. If you say that you can’t take the kids for the weekend because it’ll be 100 out and your AC’s being repaired, but then your new love interest posts photos of you on social media enjoying a vacation that very weekend, that won’t end well for you (nor should it)!
But, if you have legitimate concerns about icy roads that your ex doesn’t share, for example, that’s where being able to communicate comes in to come up with a solution that serves everyone well.
How an Attorney Can Help
It is possible to take your ex to court if you miss parenting time as a result of something related to bad weather, including differing perceptions of whether the weather was really bad enough to prevent an exchange from taking place. But with disputes like this, if it’s a one-time thing, what you get in compensation might not be worth what it takes to take it to court — though it can be the impetus to modify a decree, and that might be worth the time and money it will take to get a hearing.
If you’re working on your decree now or your parenting time has been impacted by this weather event, contact the Law Office of Lisa A. Vance when we’re on the other side of this historic winter storm. We can let you know what your options are for dealing with any immediate fallout from this week’s storm, as well as how to prepare in the future. While we don’t think we’ll see anything like this anytime soon, it’s a good reminder that for some, what’s in the standard language of a decree might not be enough to make a divorcing couple prepared for what nature might bring.