Father’s Day – Five Rules to Follow for Divorced and Not Divorced Fathers

Father’s Day was just this past weekend. I hope every Father out there got the tie he wanted or the drill he needed. More importantly, I hope every Father out there got to spend real quality time with their son or daughter. The third weekend in June is always set aside for Father’s Day. We know when it comes each year. Mother had her day in May, and now it is time for Dad. Whether you are divorced or getting divorced, the first three rules are little-known, but important, items to keep in mind. The last two rules are for every dad regardless of his marital status:

1. Father’s Day weekend begins at 6:00 p.m. on the Friday before Father’s Day and, at Dad’s election, can be extended to end at 8:00 a.m. on the following Monday. The Texas Family Code sets out the standard Father’s Day weekend as ending at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday. As a result, I see Divorce Decrees and Final Orders that routinely have Father’s Day weekend end at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday. The election by Dad to extend to the following Monday is often forgotten or overlooked. This election is subject to the Court’s best interest approval but since school is out there can be few good arguments against the election. Make sure you make this election if going through a divorce and if not currently in your possession orders, ask your lawyer to include it next time you are revising your final orders.

2. Yes, Dad can back up his summer possession to Father’s Day weekend. Yes, that gives the appearance that he is getting more than his allotted 30 or 42 days in the summer (depending on how far he lives from the kids). However, he is not getting more time. He is just using the choices given him under the Family Code. There is nothing you can do about it so get over it. The Legislature of Texas made a conscious decision in crafting and drafting the possession schedules in the Texas Family Code. The law says, for one month, the tables turn and Dad becomes the primary conservator and Mom gets the weekends. Know that it is going to happen. So, if your particular historic family summer plans or activities will be conflicted by this, then negotiate or present to a judge a modification of the way the Legislature has it set up. Once it is set in stone, the chances of getting it corrected are very, very, very low.

3. Don’t do anything that would interfere, screw up, get the way of, or otherwise impinge in any way on Father’s Day (or Mother’s Day). I can’t tell you how many times I have had clients who plan something (vacation, outing, recital, soccer game – you get the picture) on Father’s Day. Father’s Day and Mother’s Day are sacrosanct to Judges. There is no excuse nor good enough reason to justify messing with Father’s Day. You’ll lose every time. So, quite simply, don’t try it. Even if Dad is behind in child support, or never visits the kids, or makes your life miserable all the time, this one weekend a year is going to be his. Grin and bear it.

4. For Dad’s with teenagers, I would remind you and refer you to the great Samuel Clemens, more famously known as Mark Twain. My own Father loved the following and often repeated it to me. He was also known to send this quote to me often as I grew into manhood. I wish he would have been on this earth for the past 25 Father’s Days, but since he hasn’t I am reminded of him and our relationship every time I read or remember this quote. It would be wise for every Dad with teenagers – girls or boys – to commit this to memory.
“When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

5. Perception is everything. How you are perceived by your son or daughter and how you perceive your son or daughter is the basis for your relationship. Always remember that and when your time here on earth comes to an end – it is only that perception that will live on in your child’s mind. Build the foundation for their perception with much care, honesty, love, and time. If you do, it will last more than a lifetime.

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