This Sunday is Easter Sunday, and for many in San Antonio, it’s one of the most important holidays of the year. But it’s not a holiday that the Texas Family Code deals with explicitly in the same way that it handles Thanksgiving or Christmas or New Year’s Day. That’s for an obvious reason: Easter falls on a different date each year, and so it’s handled by the part of the parenting plan that addresses weekend coverage.
How Easter is Determined Each Year
According to Almanac.com, Easter is a “moveable feast” falling anywhere between March 22 and April 25. It’s determined by using the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox on March 20. (We’ll use the Western dates based on the Gregorian calendar; know that if you’re celebrating Easter in an Eastern Orthodox church, dates are based on the Julian calendar and can be quite different.)
If a parent has parenting time designated in the decree for the first, third, and fifth weekends of the month, per standard orders, and Easter falls on that first weekend (like it does in 2021), that parent would get the children for Easter by virtue of when it arrives. And in case you’re on that type of plan, like many divorced parents in Texas are, the parent getting the kids in Easter in 2021 also gets them in 2022 (April 17, as part of a third weekend), in 2023 (on April 9, which is a first weekend because the 7th is the first Friday of the month), in 2024 (March 31, as part of a rare fifth weekend), in 2025 (April 20, as part of another third weekend), and in 2026 (on April 5, part of another first weekend).
That’s six straight years for one parent! It’s not until 2027, when Easter falls on March 28, that those with parenting time on the second and fourth weekends will get their children for Easter. It hardly seems fair!
There’s also the matter of Good Friday — many Texas schools declare it a holiday, so if you’re dealing with standard orders, a parent with Thursday night parenting time must figure in what to do with the kids on Friday. Some employers will make Friday a holiday, though in Texas, a great number of businesses (and government offices) are open in the morning and close at noon, while others stay open all day.
How to Handle Easter in Your Divorce Decree
It’s up to you, if Easter is important to you and you don’t want to be subject to the randomness of the calendar, to write Easter holiday parenting time into your decree. There are a few approaches you can take to making a more fair and equitable Easter for both parents.
One approach is to take the four-day period between Thursday and Sunday and divide that, with an exchange Friday evening or Saturday morning, and alternating years, so one parent gets the Thursday and Friday period in odd years and the Saturday and Sunday period in even years (and vice versa for the other parent). Another approach is to take all of Holy Week and divide it in half, though that could be a significant departure from a normal week’s routine, even if it is for just one week.
It’s also possible to just deal with Easter Sunday itself, and do an exchange in the early afternoon. It could alternate years, with one parent getting the first part of the day in odd years and the second part in even years (and vice versa for the other parent, of course). Or, if church is important to one parent and not the other, perhaps the church-going parent can get the early portion every year to accommodate a church service.
Every Family is Different
These are just suggestions, of course — you know your own Easter routines and what’s important to you and your family. When devising a parenting plan, it’s best to have both parents on the same page, and if there’s a way to agree on it without litigating, that’s probably best. While Easter can be part of what’s settled in court, it leaves the holiday up to a judge, and your lawyer will have to impress upon the judge why it’s important.
If you’re looking to make Easter part of your divorce decree — especially after that look at the next six Easters! — the Law Office of Lisa A. Vance can help you. Whether you’re just getting divorced or you’re seeking a modification, our lawyers can determine what’s possible in your case and how to get started.