Co-Parenting can always be a challenge, but it can be especially difficult to navigate shared parenting time during the holidays. That is why one of the most important things for any parent going through a divorce to do is have a detailed parenting plan, which includes a thorough holiday visitation schedule. There are many things to consider when negotiating a schedule for holidays, but parents should always try to make sure that their agreement is what is best for their children. In this blog, we are sharing a few things to consider about a holiday visitation schedule.
6 Considerations when Creating a Holiday Visitation Schedule
Improvising a holiday schedule can not only lead to a stressful experience for all, but also potential legal consequences if you end up in violation of the current accepted parenting plan. When developing a holiday-specific schedule, make sure that:
- The holiday is defined with timeframes: It is all very well to write that “Mother shall have Christmas Day and Father shall have Christmas Eve,” but that does not indicate when an exchange should take place. An attorney would likely recommend language that would explain that the exchange time shall be at a certain time on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, and when both parents’ time begins and ends. For example, “Mother shall have Christmas Day from 10:00 a.m. on December 25th until 10:00 a.m. on December 26th and Father shall have Christmas Eve from 10:00 a.m. on December 24th until 10:00 a.m. on December 25th.”
- An exchange location is picked if school is out: Many parents utilize schedules where normal parenting time exchanges take place through school or daycare facilities. It is important that when schools or daycares are closed that the parties designate a neutral location, or indicate if one parent should pick up and the other should drop off the children.
- School calendars are consulted: For instance, some schools may have a standard Fall Break and a Spring Break, some may not. Whenever kids are off from school it is a good idea to allocate those days to a parent, as either parent may need to plan in advance for care while school is out.
- Out-of-state travel considerations are made: If you have loved ones that you plan to visit out of town, it’s necessary to factor travel times and costs into your schedule. If this is important to either parent, they may want to alternate the entire holiday in even and odd years so that the children can visit with their out-of-state family.
- Visits from out-of-state family are accommodated: If one set of grandparents lives down the road, but another set lives far away, parents should work together to make sure that when out-of-town family visits, the children are able to see them as much as possible.
- It is clearly stated that neither parent will schedule vacation time during the other person’s holiday parenting time: It is very common for parents to agree that each parent may take the children for one or two weeks of vacation during school breaks. However, it would not be fair for one parent to take their vacation over another parent’s holiday time. One good example for this is the 4th of July. If Father is allocated the 4th of July, Mother should not plan her vacation from July 1st, though July 7th. Make sure to incorporate this into a parenting plan so that it does not become a problem down the road.
Even with thorough planning, issues can occur. If there is a dispute over travel or holiday visitation, be sure to act in advance as much as possible. Any judge will tell you that they do not like to spend the week before a holiday trying to determine which parent should have the children, and more likely than not, there will not be time on their docket to deal with a last-minute issue. If you are dealing with a dispute about this, it is a good idea to reach out to an attorney for guidance as soon as possible. Leaving issues like this to the last minute tends to leave people stranded without the aid of the Court.
Finally, it is important to understand that for every child going through a divorce, or for those who have gone through a divorce in the past, conflict between their parents can be very hard to navigate. Parents should try to work together to create a holiday visitation schedule that focuses on what will be best for their kids.
At Solutions Based Family Law, we are proud to provide tailored legal counsel as you wade through the often complex and emotional process of establishing a parenting plan. Call our attorneys today at (720) 463-2232 to schedule an initial consultation.