Because the holidays are a coveted time that can lead to disputes between co-parents, the Texas Family Code provides a holiday schedule as part of the Standard Possession Order. The holiday schedule is generally the same, regardless of the distance between the custodial and non-custodial parents’ residences. In addition, this schedule overrules conflicting weekend or Thursday periods of possession.
For Christmas, Texas non-custodial parents generally:
-Have possession of the child in even-numbered years beginning at 6 p.m. on the day the child is dismissed from school for Christmas vacation until Noon on December 28.
-Have possession of the child in odd-numbered years beginning at Noon on December 28 until 6 p.m. on the day before school resumes after Christmas break.
For Christmas, Texas custodial parents generally:
-Have possession of the child in odd-numbered years beginning at 6 p.m. on the day child is dismissed from school for Christmas vacation until Noon on December 28.
-Have possession of the child in even-numbered years beginning at Noon on December 28 until 6 p.m. on the day before school resumes after Christmas break.
In Texas’ standard possession order holiday visitation, the parent who does not have the child on Christmas will have the child on Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve.
What Counts as a Denial of Visitation?
Children do best when co-parents can work together in a flexible and cooperative way to develop a schedule. Each child is unique and it’s best if parents work together to meet the needs of their child. However, when that does not occur parents may be at a loss of how to enforce visitation orders.
In order to get your visitation orders enforced by a court, you will need to show a pattern of denials. To prove a denial, you will need the following:
Visitation orders that clearly state a time, place, and date to exchange the children.
Proof that you showed up at the exact court-ordered time and location of the exchange.
Proof that the other parent did not comply with the order. A text message showing the other parent’s intent to prevent you from having possession of the child is not enough. You must go to the location on the correct date and time ordered.
Record the names of anyone who witnessed the denial of visitation, or the incident number if the police were called.
Keep a visitation journal to show a pattern of violations of the order by the other parent. In this journal, write down what happened on the date in question. For example:
“I arrived at 5:55 p.m., I waited for 20 minutes for the other parent to show up, he/she never appeared. No call/text response from the other parent.”
If you purchase something while waiting on the other parent for an exchange, make sure you save your receipt to prove you were in the correct place, at the correct time.
What Can I do if the other parent Denies my Visitation?
While friends and family may tell you to get the police involved, police will often claim visitation denials are a civil matter. Police officers typically prefer not to get involved unless a dispute rises to a criminal matter.
Depending on the department, police officers may read the court orders and try to assist in a resolution for the parties. However, police are unable to enforce the policy because it is a civil matter.
To resolve the matter a parent has two options:
Hire a qualified family attorney can help a parent Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus." If the writ is granted, the other parent will be required to appear in court with the child. In addition, the parent can ask for a Writ of Attachment directing the child’s delivery or return.
Second, if a parent withholds the child on more than one occasion, then the second option is for a parent to file a Motion for Enforcement.
If you have been denied visitation of your child please contact our office at