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Have you made you summer visitation election? April 1st and 15th are approaching.

Posted by James Victor Esh | Mar 30, 2024

Have you made you summer visitation election?  You still have time.  

[Note:  The following discussion is confined to the Standard Possession Order.  If you have a Texas Custody order, your "standard" possession order is the one ordered by the Court and may not be the same as discussed here.  If you have questions about your order, you should seek legal assistance regarding your order.  The following discussion is based on the standard and most widely used election periods for the summer.]

Navigating the complexities of summer visitation rights can often feel overwhelming for parents.   One of the key aspects of managing summer visitation under the Texas Standard Possession Order (SPO) revolves around critical deadlines: April 1st and April 15th. As a Texas Family Law Attorney, I want to shed light on the significance of these dates and provide practical advice to help you plan your summer visitation smoothly and effectively.

Electing Summer Possession: Understanding the April 1st and April 15th Deadlines

*** Note:  The terms "custodial" and "non-custodial" do have a technical legal meaning under Texas Family Law.  They are used here as they are generally understood -- the "custodial parent" being the parent who has the children 'primarily' during the school term and the "non-custodial" parent being the parent who has the extended summer election. ***

The Texas Standard Possession Order outlines specific provisions for summer visitation, designed to ensure that both parents can enjoy quality time with their children during the summer months. Central to these provisions are two crucial deadlines: April 1st for the non-custodial parent and April 15th for the custodial parent. Understanding and adhering to these deadlines is essential for a harmonious summer visitation schedule.

April 1st Deadline: Non-Custodial Parent's Election

Under the SPO, the non-custodial parent is entitled to a extended period of possession during the summer (typically 30 days but depending on the distance of the parents a longer period), in addition to their regular visitation schedule. To exercise this right, the non-custodial parent must provide written notice to the custodial parent by April 1st of each year, specifying the chosen dates for their extended summer possession.

Failure to notify the custodial parent by this deadline means that the default period for summer possession will apply, typically from July 1st to July 31st. However, the importance of selecting and communicating specific dates cannot be overstated, as it allows for better planning and coordination between both parents.

April 15th Deadline: Custodial Parent's Response

Once the non-custodial parent has made their election by the April 1st deadline (or if they fail to make an election at all), the custodial parent then has until April 15th to notify the non-custodial parent if they choose to designate one weekend within that extended summer possession period for the child to spend with them. This provision is designed to ensure that the custodial parent also has the opportunity for extended time with the child during the summer, even during the non-custodial parent's elected period.

If the custodial parent fails to notify the non-custodial parent by April 15th, they forfeit this opportunity for the year.

These elections must in some form of writing (email, text, or notice requirements of your order).

Strategies for a Smooth Summer Visitation

1. Mark Your Calendar: Both parents should mark these deadlines in their calendars at the beginning of each year to ensure they do not pass unnoticed.

2. Communicate Early and Often: Open lines of communication can significantly ease the process of coordinating summer visitation. Even before the official notifications, discussing potential dates can help in avoiding conflicts and ensuring plans align with the child's best interests.

3. Documentation is Key: Always provide your notices in writing and keep copies for your records. This can help avoid misunderstandings and provides a clear record should disputes arise.

4. Flexibility and Cooperation: While the deadlines are fixed, the spirit of these rules is to ensure that children can enjoy the summer with both parents. Flexibility and a willingness to cooperate can go a long way in creating a positive and memorable summer for your child.

5. Seek Legal Advice When Necessary: If disputes arise or if you're unsure about the best way to approach summer visitation planning, consulting with a family law attorney can provide clarity and direction. 


The April 1st and April 15th deadlines under the Texas Standard Possession Order play a crucial role in planning summer visitation schedules. By adhering to these deadlines and adopting a collaborative approach to summer planning, divorced or separated parents can ensure a fulfilling and enjoyable summer break for their children. Remember, the ultimate goal is to foster a loving and supportive environment for your child, regardless of the complexities of co-parenting arrangements.

About the Author

James Victor Esh

Victor understands the struggles of families.  It is at the core of how he practices.  When a family must be reshaped, he understands the emotional struggle this causes.  He seeks to resolve conflicts in the most efficient way by reaching agreements where they can be made.  When an agreement can'...

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