Adapting your Texas child custody schedule for summer break

Ah, summer vacation. Those two words give countless children across the state of Texas something to look forward to after another tedious year of school. Summer is a time of fun, sun, sleeping late, sowing oats and taking a much-needed vacation from both school and work. It is important to remember, however, that even the best-laid vacation plans can go astray when the family is subject to a court-approved child custody or visitation schedule and modifications are needed to account for the time spent away from home.

Making changes

If the parents are civil, it's entirely possible that they can come up with a workable solution to informally modify custody and parenting time temporarily to give the child more time with one parent. This might mean giving the non-custodial parent a solid block of visitation for a week or two in lieu of having the child visit every other day, having the custodial parent spend an entire month with the child instead of giving the non-custodial parent periodic visitation or any other arrangement the parties can conceive to fit their unique situation.

Flexibility might also be needed to account for support changes facilitated by a temporarily modified custody arrangement. Again, if the parties have an amicable relationship, they could mutually decide to suspend support payments during the time that the non-custodial parent has the child full-time or come up with an alternative short-term change if they deem it warranted.

If problems arise

When the parents already have a strained relationship, though, seemingly small custody and child support modifications requested by one party can easily turn into full-fledged legal battles that require court intervention. If court involvement is needed, then the party seeking the modification must provide reason why a deviation should be granted. When making modifications to preexisting child custody, child support or spousal support orders, courts will rely upon the same statutory and regulatory sources that were used to make the initial arrangements.

For example, when making child custody determinations, courts look to the Texas Family Code. These statutes provide guidance to family court judges that can help them decide the arrangement that reflects the child's best interests, including the age and health of both parties, any special needs of the child, the housing situation of each parent, child's preference (if old enough to have a preference considered by the court, which in Texas usually means 12 or older), and the ability to make rational decisions on behalf of the child.

Are you dealing with a contested short-term custody or child support dispute? Looking for legal help with a longer-term modification instead? If so, consider speaking with an experienced family law attorney; he or she will have the insight and experience needed to guide you through the process with as little stress and wait time as possible.