After getting divorced, custody can be a central issue of contention, especially around the holidays. Christmas and Thanksgiving are generally the most difficult holidays to plan for as both parents usually want visitation at the same times. With planning and compromise, parents can work together to provide a consistent schedule for their children that allows equal time with both parents.
The first step is defining the holiday schedule. Typically, a period of time or a block is specified which takes precedence over the normal custodial schedule. The block can begin when school ends for the specified holiday and end when school restarts after the holiday, or it can consist of a single day. Custodial time during the block is divided equally between parents with an exchange in the middle. This exchange usually takes place the day after the holiday, but sometimes parents choose to exchange midday on the actual holiday. Parents typically alternate custodial time in alternating years.
Here is an example of a sample holiday custodial schedule:
Christmas Holiday shall be divided into two blocks, with the first block beginning when school recesses for Christmas and ending on December 26th at 9:00am, and the second block beginning on December 26th at 9:00am and ending when school reconvenes after the Christmas Holiday. Father shall have custodial time during the first block in even numbered years and the second block in odd numbered years. Mother shall have custodial time during the first block in odd numbered years and the second block in even numbered years.
Almost universally, the two most important holidays in custody orders are Thanksgiving and Christmas. As a result a parent is typically not awarded both Thanksgiving day and Christmas day in the same year. In other words, if you have Christmas in even number years, you will have custodial time on Thanksgiving in odd numbered years and vice versa.
Different judges employ different holiday schedules and even preferred holiday schedules are subject to change based on the locations of the parties, age of the children, and family traditions. It can be advantageous to resolve scheduling issues outside of court so that parents can decide what’s best for their children instead of a judge.
Holidays can be stressful time. With planning, coordination, and co-parenting, you can minimize the stress associated with custodial schedules during the holidays and focus on enjoying the time with your children.
If you’re involved in a custody matter and are tired of going at it alone, we are eager to help. Contact us today to get started.
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