If you follow the standard possession orders for parenting time in the Texas Family Code, as many divorced parents in Texas do, there’s a specific section for spring break, but it’s different for parents who live 100 miles apart or less than it is for parents who live more than 100 miles apart.
What the Law Says
If you’re looking at the Texas Family Code, the language lives within Sections 153.312 and 153.313, as it does for all weekend and holiday parenting time discussion.
If parents live within 100 miles of each other, it’s written so “the possessory conservator shall have possession in even-numbered years, beginning at 6 p.m. on the day the child is dismissed from school for the school’s spring vacation and ending at 6 p.m. on the day before school resumes after that vacation, and the managing conservator shall have possession for the same period in odd-numbered years.”
So, if the mom is considered the managing conservator per the decree, she would get the kids this year, and dad would get them next year.
How Distance and Children’s Ages Factor In
But if parents live more than 100 miles apart, that changes — in part, because what the Texas Family Code calls the “possessory conservator” doesn’t get the same parenting time during the school year as parents who live closer.
The language looks similar, only the “possessory conservator” gets the children every year for those same day and time parameters.
If one of your children is a graduating senior and turns 18 before spring break, as we’ve discussed in an earlier article, the decree applies with respect to child support until graduation, but once your child is 18, he or she can determine where to spend spring break. As we wrote at the time, though:
If your 18-year-old has younger siblings, it may make the most sense to have your new adult accompany siblings according to their parenting time schedules. As we often say in connection with the divorce decree, it’s there as a fallback if you need it, but there might be something that works better than what’s written in the decree. And, as long as both parents agree to it and you commit it to text or email, you can all move forward with it. Once that child is 18, though, that fallback no longer applies. And that potentially means a whole new shift in the parents’ relationship.
The Code tries to cover as much as it can, but there are some special cases that might require you to tailor your decree when you’re getting divorced, or to modify it if an issue becomes apparent. For example, most children in divorce go to schools in the same school district, but it’s possible that one child goes to a private school that operates under a slightly different spring break schedule than the child or children who attend public schools.
In those cases, it’s up to the parents to determine what works, and if they can’t agree, it’d be a good time to modify. If you’re following the letter of the law, the parent’s spring break parenting time would apply to each child individually based on his or her schedule, but that would cause children to separate if one had spring break the first week of March and the other had it the second week of March — and that’s certainly not what’s intended.
It’s a good idea to check out the school calendar for all the children at the start of the school year and look ahead to spring break. If there is a discrepancy like we described, it’s good to get a solution agreed on in writing. Or, in a worst-case scenario, it gives you plenty of time to get a modification hearing on the books — which the Law Office of Lisa A. Vance can help with, if it comes to that.