Creating a holiday visitation schedule. Perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of any divorce revolves around custody and visitation issues, and those become exponentially more poignant during the holidays. Creating a holiday visitation schedule for visitation that extends for a lengthy period of time, yet maintains a certain level of flexibility, can help everyone enjoy the holidays with a minimum of stress.
Holiday Visitation Schedule – Days to be Considered
In addition to the obvious holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, Independence Day and Easter, parents should keep in mind the numerous school breaks, such as President’s Day, Spring Break, and Memorial Day. Also important are Father’s and Mother’s Day, and each parent’s and step-parent’s birthdays. Clearly, the children’s birthdays should also be considered.
Typical Holiday Visitation Schedule Scenarios
California courts offer documents to help families take a long-term look at holidays and school vacations as they attempt to share the kids. One form lists common holidays that couples should consider as they determine their holiday visitation schedule, and allows parents to consider schedules for one particular year, or even for alternate years. Depending on location, work schedules, and circumstances, couples may contemplate a number of ways to deal with holiday visitation schedules:
- Some couples divide important days by the hour. This way each parent gets to celebrate milestones with the children: One parent may enjoy breakfast and presents in the morning on Christmas Day, while the other has a family dinner that evening.
- For parents who live significant distances away from one another, it sometimes makes more sense to split the holidays. One may get the kids for Thanksgiving, while the other has a significant chunk of time over the Christmas holidays.
- Many couples alternate where the children spend special days by odd and even years. 2018 may be Dad’s year for Christmas, but Mom gets the kids for the holiday in 2019.
Of course, most couples find that these and other scheduling strategies have to be adjusted and combined over time. That is because circumstances may change for one or both parties, the holiday schedule may interfere with regular visitation schedules, or children may become sick, interrupting a scheduled visit.
When the Holiday Visitation Schedule Conflicts with the Regular Schedule
It can be frustrating to be the parent whose visitation time is impacted negatively by a holiday visitation schedule, but parents need to understand that the holiday visitation schedule trumps any regular schedules, period. If kids spend time with parents on alternate weekends, in some cases, it could lead to more time than usual with a particular parent. For example, let us say December’s weekend schedule is Mom, Dad, Mom, Dad. In a particular year, Dad’s Christmas visitation occurs during Mom’s weekend three. So Mom loses that third weekend with the kids. And yes, Dad gets to keep the kids on his normal weekends, too, so he gets them three weeks in a row. Continue reading →