The first question I got from clients when the children’s schools were being closed because of the Coronavirus was, “What happens when Spring Break is extended by my child’s school?”
We are definitely in uncharted territory this Spring Break 2020. Most Texas Divorce Decrees state that one parent will have parenting time possession for their child’s Spring Break and return the child at the end of that Spring Break. Most clients are not looking to take advantage of the system or the situation–they just need direction. This is a time when we are very grateful to our Supreme Court of Texas, which issued a Second Emergency Order on Tuesday, March 18, 2020, and Denton County District Judges for that direction. Things are stressful enough without our parents’ worrying about whether they are in compliance with the rules about their parenting time possession periods. So, here is what our Denton County District Judges immediately published to answer that question:
DENTON COUNTY, TEXAS
The Denton County District Judges take the position that any school district’s additional school closure following the week of Spring Break (whether the district calls it an extension of Spring Break or not) does not extend a parent’s period of possession beyond the week designated for spring break according to the school’s academic calendar and the possession schedule in the final order.
/s/ Brody Shanklin The Honorable Brody Shanklin Local Administrative Judge On Behalf of: 16th Judicial District, Hon. Sherry Shipman 158th Judicial District, Hon. Steven Burgess 362nd Judicial District, Hon. Bruce McFarling 367th Judicial District, Hon. Margaret Barnes 393rd Judicial District, Hon. Douglas Robison 431st Judicial District, Hon. Jonathan Bailey 442nd Judicial District, Hon. Tiffany Haertling 462nd Judicial District, Hon. Lee Ann Breading
So, if you have the children for Spring Break, save everyone a lot of time and anxiety and abide by the Judges’ published statement.
If you don’t have your children for Spring Break and the other parent does not return the children to you, our Courts have also stated that hearings will be available for essential court matters, such as Habeas Corpus (return the person, for example after Spring Break), domestic violence or emergency hearings are available. Hopefully, with this clarification, all families in Denton County, Texas, facing these times will have at least this question resolved.