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There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays

By Attorney Keri A. Johnson

Allocation of parental responsibilities can be viewed mainly as having two major topics: Decision-making and parenting time. A very important part of parenting time is the allocation and determination of holiday time with the children. Generally, trying to divide the time for holidays as equitably as possible is the best method, like alternating odd and even years, or splitting the day, but of course it all depends on the holiday, and the circumstances. Many factors should be considered like what holidays are typically celebrated and important to each parent, the parent’s work schedules, the children’s schedules, and the distance between residences.

For instance, if it’s a holiday that always occurs on a Monday (Labor Day, Memorial Day), will the holiday parenting time be for the entirety of the weekend including the Monday? Just the day? Will either or both parents just have to work so childcare is needed instead? Is it a holiday break from school that includes a holiday?

Other practical considerations are vital as well. For example, the 4th of July, it falls during summer, it isn’t always celebrated on the actual holiday, and the traditional celebrations must occur at certain times of day (fireworks are at dusk or later). So, the holiday schedule should consider all of these things, to make the most sense and be the most fair for everyone, especially the children.

A more minor holiday like Valentine’s Day can fall during the week, and traditionally celebrations between parents with children are not as common and may not need to be included as a holiday for parenting time. Similarly, holidays that are not significant to a particular family do not need to be ordered or included, and additional holidays that are significant can be listed.

School breaks are different than holidays but are typically included in a parenting plan. Longer breaks will also typically include a holiday. If the parties reside a significant distance apart, it may be that the parent who is the non-residential parent should have more time during school breaks. But neither parent may want to forfeit celebrating a significant holiday with their children either.

Holiday parenting time should be clear and specific to ensure the parties won’t wind up back in the courtroom right before every holiday or school break. Even if the parents are on good terms, it is still a good idea to have a specific schedule with specific days and times, locations where the exchanges will occur, and who is responsible for transportation. This will give the parents and children a default in case things go south and agreements can no longer be reached.

The holidays are always a special time as they give us the opportunity to create memories and traditions with the ones we love. Ensuring the children are given that opportunity is vitally important. If you need help with a holiday schedule or are interested in mediating these issues, call now to schedule a consultation or a mediation session with the other parent or schedule through our website.

Disclaimer: This information is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. It should not be construed as legal advice nor is it a substitute for legal counsel. You should not act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information provided in this post without seeking appropriate legal or other professional advice from a lawyer licensed in your state, country, or other jurisdiction.


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