How does visitation work during the HolidaysHoliday season is upon us and Texas parents working under a divorce or child custody agreement may be wondering how they will share custody of the child during the upcoming holidays. Ideally the parents will have mutually agreed to a custody plan the maximizes the time the children spend with their families over the holidays; however that may not be the case for all families. Most divorce decrees of final orders explicitly state the terms and conditions of each party’s time of possession of the child and some orders may have modified language, so it is important to first read your final decree of divorce or final order regarding the custody and possession schedule.

A Standard Possession Order, which is the custody agreement most parents operate under, awards custody of the children in an alternating fashion. The language of the Standard Possession Order, which is likely included in your final decree of divorce or custody order, is dictated by §153.314 of the Texas Family Code. The holiday possession language is as follows:

Sec. 153.314.  HOLIDAY POSSESSION UNAFFECTED BY DISTANCE PARENTS RESIDE APART.  The following provisions govern possession of the child for certain specific holidays and supersede conflicting weekend or Thursday periods of possession without regard to the distance the parents reside apart.  The possessory conservator and the managing conservator shall have rights of possession of the child as follows:

(1)  the possessory conservator shall have possession of the child in even-numbered years beginning at 6 p.m. on the day the child is dismissed from school for the Christmas school vacation and ending at noon on December 28, and the managing conservator shall have possession for the same period in odd-numbered years;

(2)  the possessory conservator shall have possession of the child in odd-numbered years beginning at noon on December 28 and ending at 6 p.m. on the day before school resumes after that vacation, and the managing conservator shall have possession for the same period in even-numbered years;

(3)  the possessory conservator shall have possession of the child in odd-numbered years, beginning at 6 p.m. on the day the child is dismissed from school before Thanksgiving and ending at 6 p.m. on the following Sunday, and the managing conservator shall have possession for the same period in even-numbered years;

So what does this mean for parents in 2018? The possessory parent, the person who is entitled to visitation under the Standard Possession Order (the non-primary parent), is entitled to possession of the child or children  beginning at 6 p.m. the day the children are released for the Thanksgiving Holiday and must return the child or children to the managing parent by 6 p.m. on the Sunday following Thanksgiving.

The managing conservator parent will then get the child or children beginning when the they are released from school for the Christmas holiday and ending at 12:00 p.m. on December 28th.  From that point until the child returns to school, the possessory parent has visitation with the children.

So typically a parent will have either Thanksgiving and New Year’s or Christmas and it alternates by year. Again, parents can come up with whatever schedule fits their individual family’s needs, these are only guidelines and in place should the parents be unable to come to an agreed possession schedule on their own.

Other holidays such as Kwanzaa or Hanukah are not addressed in a Standard Possession Order so if those are the holidays your family celebrates you will need to refer to your final decree or order or speak to a family law attorney.

If you have any additional questions about how the Holiday Possession Schedule works, please contact the Ramos Law Group, PLLC.

What Not To Wear
What NOT to wear to court.

The idea of appearing in court to testify in a contested divorce or other family law matter can be terrifying for anyone. A lot is on the line, possibly custody of children or property, and a person needs to put their best foot forward, both literally and figuratively in learning what to wear to a court hearing or trial.In particular, is the question of what to wear to divorce court. While the family law court system is decidedly more casual than other systems such as civil litigation or federal courts, it is important that litigants dress in an appropriate manner. Here are some tips for what to wear at a typical contested hearing, whether it’s a divorce, child custody case, or any other family law issue.

Suit and Tie? Not always necessary

What to wear to court for Men
What TO wear to court.

In today’s casual day and age, it’s not uncommon for a person to not own a suit. Luckily for family law litigants, a suit is not required when testifying or appearing in court. If you own a suit and it fits nicely then, by all means, wear it; however, don’t go breaking the bank on a new suit if you don’t currently own one. When looking through your wardrobe for what to wear to a court hearing, keep in mind business casual can look just as good as a suit. Dresses, slacks, skirts, and dress shirts can all be worn in court without the necessity of a suit jacket.

Put your Best Foot Forward

Open-toed shoes are an absolute no-no. Sandals, flip flops, strappy heels, etc. should all be avoided when dressing for court. The same can be said for shoes more appropriate for the club or the gym. Men should wear dress shoes, loafers, or boots. Women should stick to closed-toed shoes with a sensible heel height.

Save the Gun Show for Outside the Courtroom

What to wear to court
What TO wear to court.

You do not have the right to bare arms inside the courtroom. Overly casual and revealing clothing are examples of what not to wear to court for a hearing or trial. Even during the hottest days of a Texas summer, it is not appropriate to wear tank tops to court, even if it is on the dressier side. If you’re a lady and you would like to wear a tank top under a sweater that is okay, but unless you have something to wear over the tank you are likely to be asked to wait outside in the hallway. Cap sleeves for the ladies can sometimes show too much arm, so check with your attorney or the court before you show up to make sure what you are wearing is appropriate.

Profane messages or humorous items of clothing should be avoided

No matter how funny you think your t-shirt is, a judge will not find it amusing. A judge will perceive it as an example of your poor judgment and that is never good for your case. This is especially important when considering what to wear for divorce court, as your capacity for good judgment is carefully considered for rulings including child custody.

Hats Off

Don’t wear a hat. Don’t bring a hat. If you’re wondering what hat to wear to a court hearing or trial, the answer is none at all. Even if you wear a hat for most of your waking hours, take it off before you head to court. Wearing a hat will be viewed as disrespectful. It will draw the ire of both the court bailiffs and the judge.

Less is More

It can be very difficult for a judge to take pity on a financially destitute party if they are decked out head to toe in Chanel. It can also make the argument of a person who failed to pay child support that they have no money unbelievable if they are wearing a flashy Rolex watch. It’s best to leave obvious brands or expensive accessories at home. Judges (and opposing attorneys) notice what the people in front of them are wearing so make sure to dress simply. Even fake bags or jewelry can give off an appearance that may result in an unfavorable decision toward your case so save the flashy items of clothing for when you are not in court, so it’s always best to take careful consideration of what to wear to a court hearing or trial.

Contact Us for More Information

We thank you for taking the time and effort to learn how to best approach your case. If you are in need of a family law expert in the area of Houston, Texas, we would love to represent you. Contact us for your consultation.

white gavel, block, and scalesThere is no denying that family life can get tough. For these difficult situations, sometimes it’s necessary to call upon the assistance of a legal professional who has experience in dealing with family issues. Divorce is the most common reason why people hire family lawyers in Houston, but it is certainly not the only one. There are plenty of other issues that demand legal representation from a licensed attorney with a background in family law. Here are some of the most frequent reasons why someone may need to have a good family lawyer on their side.

Divorce-Related Issues

Having a family lawyer is necessary for many reasons – before, during and after a divorce. For example, you may find out a year down the line that what you are paying for spousal or child support is actually not a guideline amount per the Texas Family Code. Or you may wish to have your visitation or custody rights modified. After a divorce is finalized, you never know when you may need to make changes to custody, support, or visitation. Of course, having a family lawyer in Houston is also the best way to keep stress levels at a minimum, keep everything organized and move the proceedings along as fast as possible.

Spousal or Child Abuse

If you are or someone you love is experiencing emotional or physical abuse, it may be necessary to have a legal professional assist you. A good family lawyer in Houston will be able to get you in contact with organizations and people who can help you. It may also be necessary to file a protective order or divorce and move the children. Of course, every single situation is different, so it is important to have an attorney who is experienced in these kinds of domestic issues. Sometimes, it can feel like there are no options if you aren’t familiar with the law, but a family attorney can help you improve your situation.

Adoption

In the state of Texas, there are plenty of hoops to jump through and paperwork to fill out if you plan on adopting a child. Naturally, this is a positive thing that is in the best interest of the child, but it can be difficult if you don’t know how to proceed. A family lawyer in Houston will walk you through every step to help make your adoption dreams come true. You are going to have to go through a background check, financial status check, legal document verification process and much more. Having a family lawyer on your side is critical if you are planning adoption.

Hire Ramos Law Group, PLLC

Having a good family lawyer in Houston on your side is integral when it comes to any family-related issue that is important to you. Nothing in life is worth sacrificing the well-being of you and your loved ones for. If you believe that you need legal advice or representation for any reason, do not hesitate to call Ramos Family Law at (713) 225-6200, or fill out our online contact form to arrange a consultation. We are proud to offer our expertise in family law to those who live in the Houston area. Don’t hesitate; call Ramos Family Law today for superior legal assistance.

Reduce Stress - Prepare to Testify

  1. Prepare Ahead of Time
  2. Dress for Success
  3. Take a Deep Breath
  4. Listen to the Question Asked
  5. Take Your Time
  6. Answer ONLY the Question Asked
  7. Tell the Truth
  8. Don’t be Argumentative
  9. Listen to what the Judge or Attorney Says
  10. Relax

Quick tip: Before responding briefly pause to opposing counsel’s question to allow your attorney time to object should one be required.

Prepare Ahead of Time

If you have an attorney, you should meet with them prior to trial to discuss what topics will be addressed during testimony and the attorney should give you tips or provide you with materials that will help you prepare for testifying. Many times in a family law case, testimony revolves around specific events and dates. It can be helpful to create a timeline of these events and times to review prior to testifying so you can clearly remember these facts.


Dress for Success

Your appearance can affect how the judge or jury perceives you and your testimony. It is important that you dress conservatively. It doesn’t necessarily need to be your Sunday best but you do need to avoid sleeveless tops, shorts, shirts with inappropriate messages on them, tight or revealing clothing, and open toe shoes. Don’t wear anything that could offend the judge or make them think less of you as a parent or person. Also keep in mind it may come across as ostentatious or tacky if you’re wearing all brand names so keep the Chanel purses and flashy jewelry at home. Wear something comfortable as well, you don’t want to be shifting and fidgeting during testimony because you can’t breathe in your outfit.

Take a Deep Breath

Breathe. It’s understandable that testifying on the stand and under oath is a scary prospect but it’s going to be okay.  Speak slowly. Enunciate your words. What you are saying on the stand could very well affect the outcome of the case. Make sure you speak loudly and clearly. It’s okay to show emotion but try to speak as clearly and calmly as possible. You want to make sure everyone can clearly hear what you are saying. You’re not on a timer, take the time to gather your thoughts and make sure you say what you want to say.

Listen to the Question Asked

You may be asked hundreds of questions while you’re on the stand testifying and often many of the questions may seem very similar and you just want to repeat the previous answer. Or you may think you know what the attorney is going to ask and go ahead and answer before they finish the question. Do not do this. Make sure you listen very carefully to the question that was asked, take the time to digest the question and make sure you answer addresses the specific question asked. You don’t want to get tripped up by the opposing counsel or say something that was not even relevant to the case.

Take Your Time

Many people start speaking at high rates of speed when they get nervous. This is a normal human reaction. However, you want to make sure the judge, jury, court reporter, and attorneys all understand what you are saying. So take a deep breath and slowly respond. Speaking slowly and calmly will also help to formulate the best answer possible.

Answer ONLY the Question Asked

Don’t elaborate. Don’t answer a question that wasn’t specifically asked. You will get your chance to tell your full story, just take everything one step at a time. Your attorney will ask you specific questions to paint a full picture of your side so don’t spill everything at once. And you don’t want to start oversharing when the other side is asking you questions. Answer only the question asked with short and sweet sentences.

Tell the Truth

This should be an automatic but sometimes people forget they are under oath or attempt to try and stretch the truth.

Don’t be Argumentative

You’re trying to impress the finder of fact so that they will find in your favor. Answering the opposing side’s questions can be frustrating or you may not believe your side is being adequately portrayed. But you need to stay calm. Don’t try to talk over the attorney. Don’t interrupt either an attorney or a judge when they are speaking. Don’t get an attitude on the stand.

Listen to what the Judge or Attorney Says

An attorney may make what is called an objection, which could cause the question asked to be reworded or set aside. A judge may ask you to stop talking or not to answer a specific question. Make sure you are actually listening to prevent yourself from speaking out of turn.

Relax

Of course you’re going to be nervous during testimony. It’s natural. However body language can be as important as verbal statements. Don’t pick at your nails or fidget, it could come across as lying. Don’t cross your arms or have an aggressive look on your face, you want to come across as honest and sympathetic.

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