In custody cases, parents often go to court and fail to consider a holiday schedule with their children. When this happens, the judge often enters an order leaving out those terms.
However, this does not have to happen. If you are headed to court for custody/visitation, you should consider the holidays that are important to you and your family. Common holidays that are included in a custody/visitation order include:
- Christmas Eve/Christmas
- New Year Eve/New Years Day
- 4th of July
Other holidays such as Halloween, Labor Day and Veteran's Day may also be included. If you have school-aged children, you should check the school's calendar for times when they are out of school, such as spring and winter break.
Other special occasions such as the child's birthday, your birthday, and Mother's/Father's Day can also be specified in the order.
There are many factors that come in to play when determining the holiday schedule. Judges will consider the driving distance between each parent and the parenting time each parent will receive during the year. For example, often a long-distance parent will receive significantly more holiday time in an effort to compensate for missed time during the year.
However, common scenarios include:
- Alternating holidays: For example, the mother will get the children for Thanksgiving on even years but, the father will get Christmas. On odd years, the father will get Thanksgiving and the mother will get Christmas. If other holidays are included in the order, they are added to the list in the same alternating pattern.
- Split holidays: Your children may spend the day of the holiday with each parent by splitting their time at each household. However, this only works if the parents are a short driving distance from the other. Otherwise, you will be spending most of the day traveling.
There are other ways of splitting holidays. However, the ones mentioned above are the most common. In deciding on a holiday schedule, you should try to reach an agreement with the other parent. Often, one holiday may not mean as much to one parent as the other and due to religious beliefs, may not even be celebrated. Therefore, you may be able to agree on some holidays.
Other special occasions such as the child's birthday is often split, with both parents seeing the child. While others are established by default, such as the mother having the child on Mother's Day and the father having the child on Father's Day.
So, if Christmas did not go as expected this year or, your current arrangement is just not working, remember to think it out before going to court. The judge will try to be fair and reasonable to both parents. Holidays are special times for not only yourself but also, the other parent.