Texas Christmas Visitation: When Do You Get the Kids? [2023]

Last Updated on January 19, 2024 by Turner Thornton

As the holiday season approaches, families across Texas are busy preparing for Christmas – deciding what gifts to buy, meals to make, and halls to deck. But for divorced or separated parents, this time of year brings about a more pressing challenge: figuring out exactly when and how long they get to spend time with their kids.

In this article, our Fort Worth family law attorneys explain Texas’ 2023 standard Christmas visitation schedule and offer tips for successful co-parenting during the holidays. But first, please take a moment to watch this video by senior associate attorney Kristen Carr, who reminds us to make the most of this season by focusing on what truly matters – creating beautiful memories with your children.

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding the 2023 Texas Christmas Visitation Schedule for even and odd-year possession.
  • Parents can craft a custom holiday schedule if they agree, but get it in writing.
  • Prioritize children’s happiness by communicating effectively. Contact an experienced family law attorney if disputes arise.

Christmas Visitation Schedule in Texas

Understanding the 2023 Texas Christmas Visitation Schedule

Child visitation can be one of the most contentious issues in divorce and child custody cases, and unfortunately, the stress of the holidays tends to make things worse. That’s why the Texas Legislature created a visitation schedule – called the Standard Possession Order – for parents to follow if they don’t have a customized court order that specifically addresses the Christmas holiday.

Texas Christmas visitation schedule can be found in Section 153.314 of the Texas Family Code, which is designed to ensure that children enjoy the holiday season with both of their parents. It designates that children spend alternate years with each parent during major holidays, including Christmas and Thanksgiving.

An alternating schedule aims to provide a fair and balanced approach to holiday visitation, allowing both parents to create special memories with their children during this special time of year. Below we explain the parenting schedule further and also look at the 2023 Texas Christmas visitation schedule.

The Even-Year, Odd-Year Schedule for Divorce or Separated Parents

During the child’s winter break, the custodial parent – also referred to as the primary parent- will have the first half of the break during odd years, while the non-custodial parent, or non-primary parent, will have the second half of the child’s Christmas break. The next year, during an even-numbered year, their schedules will flip.

So, for example, in 2023 – because it is an odd-numbered year – Texas custodial parents will have possession of the child during the first half of Christmas break, while the non-custodial parents will have the second half of the break.

Texas Christmas Child Visitation Schedule Dates and Times

  • In Texas, the parent with the first half of the Christmas break is entitled to possession of the child beginning from the time the child is released from school for Christmas vacation until noon on December 28.
  • The parent with the second half of the Christmas break is entitled to possession of the child from noon on December 28 until the child goes back to school after their winter break.

One way of looking at this schedule is that one parent gets the child for Christmas, and the other gets the New Year’s holiday. The next year, they rotate.

**It’s important to point out that whichever parent doesn’t have the first half of Christmas will have Thanksgiving break with the child.

The 2023 Christmas Visitation Schedule

Now that we’ve given you the background, here’s what you really want to know – Who gets the kids for Christmas in 2023?

In 2023, the custodial parent – or the primary parent – gets the child when school lets out for Christmas break until noon on December 28. So that means the custodial parent gets the kids on Christmas this year. The non-custodial parent gets the child from noon on December 28th until the end of the year when the child returns to school.

Standard Possession Calendar

Custom Holiday Possession Schedules

While the Texas Standard Possession Order is the go-to for holiday visitation, it’s not right for every family. Unique family dynamics may necessitate adjustments to the standard possession order, such as long-distance parenting or families with special needs children.

Parents are allowed to create a custom holiday possession schedule if they can agree on an arrangement that works better for their needs. By working together to develop a tailored possession and access schedule, parents can ensure that their children’s best interests are prioritized while maintaining strong and healthy relationships with both parents. If you and the co-parent agree on a schedule different from the court order, it’s important to get it in writing until you can modify the original order.

refusing to comply with a court order

Refusal to Abide By Possession Schedule

In Texas, if a parent refuses to abide by a possession schedule, as set out in a court-ordered custody agreement, there can be legal consequences. It’s important to note that custody agreements, including holiday visitation schedules, are legally binding documents. Here’s what could happen:

Modification of Custody Order: If one parent consistently violates the current agreement, the other parent could ask the court to modify the existing order. The court may decide to change the custody arrangement to better serve the child’s interests.

Enforcement Orders: The aggrieved parent can file an enforcement order. This order specifically asks the court to enforce the previously set terms of the custody arrangement. A hearing will be set and the court can then take various actions to ensure compliance.

Contempt of Court: The parent not following the schedule could be held in contempt of court. This is a legal finding that a person has disobeyed a court order. Contempt can lead to penalties such as fines or even jail time, depending on the severity of the violation.

Mediation or Legal Counseling: In some cases, the court may recommend or require mediation to resolve the issue. This can be an opportunity for both parents to discuss their concerns and come to a mutually agreeable solution.

Impact on Future Custody Decisions: Consistently refusing to abide by the custody or visitation order can negatively impact the non-compliant parent in future custody decisions. Courts look unfavorably upon parents who do not cooperate or follow legal agreements, especially when it affects the best interests of the child.

It’s always advisable for parents to try to resolve visitation and custody issues amicably and in the best interests of the child. If disputes arise, it’s important to contact a skilled and qualified family child custody lawyer as soon as possible.

The attorney will likely advise you to document the other parent’s repeated violations and continue to hold up your end of the agreement by proving that you were at the correct time, date, and location to exchange the children. The attorney will then advocate for you in court. Click here for more information about what happens if you are denied child visitation by your ex.

coparenting over Christmas

Co-Parenting Strategies for a Joyful Christmas

For a joyful Christmas, co-parents should put their children’s happiness first, keep communication lines open, and stay flexible with scheduling. Parents can create a harmonious and enjoyable holiday atmosphere for everyone involved by focusing on the children’s needs and well-being.

Effective co-parenting strategies include:

  • Involving the children in the decision-making process and discussing holiday plans with them, allowing them to feel heard and considered in the family dynamics.
  • Listening to their thoughts and opinions to create a customized holiday schedule that caters to the children’s needs and desires, ensuring they have a meaningful and enjoyable holiday experience.
  • Coordinating gift-giving arrangements jointly to avert misunderstandings and make sure that children feel valued and loved during the holiday season. This approach helps in maintaining consistency and balance in their lives.
  • Establishing clear and respectful boundaries and guidelines to ensure that both parents understand and agree on holiday arrangements, minimizing potential conflicts.
  • Prioritizing the children’s traditions and rituals to maintain a sense of continuity and stability, which is especially important during times of family change.
  • Planning ahead and being proactive about potential challenges, such as travel logistics or scheduling conflicts, to minimize stress and ensure smooth holiday celebrations.

    By implementing these strategies, co-parents can effectively navigate the complexities of holiday custody and create a joyful and inclusive Christmas experience for their children.

Dispute Over Chrismas Visitation? Contact Us.

Understanding the 2023 Texas Christmas Visitation Schedule and implementing effective co-parenting strategies are essential for ensuring a joyful and harmonious holiday season for children and parents alike. By prioritizing children’s happiness, maintaining open communication, and addressing any unique family dynamics, parents can create a positive and memorable holiday experience for their children.

However, if a dispute arises and you need help resolving a conflict over the visitation schedules, child custody, or any family law matter, it’s important to speak with an experienced child custody attorney. The legal team at Varghese Summersett Family Law Group understands there is nothing more important than your children. We will explain your legal options and help you protect your parental rights and possession to your children. We have expertise in handling high-conflict custody and visitation disagreements. Call 817-900-3220 to schedule a consultation with an experienced child visitation lawyer.

Turner Thornton
Turner Thornton
Turner Thornton is a well-known family law attorney in Fort Worth who leads the Varghese Summersett Family Law Group. Turner has successfully guided hundreds of individuals and families through the most trying period of their lives as a skilled negotiator and savvy litigator. Turner Thornton concentrates his practice on family law, including divorce, child custody, contempt, and modification cases. He is experienced in handling estates with significant and unique assets that can be difficult to value. He finds amicable resolutions where possible to conserve his client's resources, but knows how to take the gloves off if the situation calls for it. He has had remarkable results in and outside of the courtroom based largely on his ability and desire to understand his clients' needs and guide them on the pathway to what success looks like for them.

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