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Child Custody and the Holidays

Child Custody and the Holidays: For Those Who Have a Child Custody Schedule

Fourth of July is just around the corner – do you know what your child custody schedule says?  Most divorce decrees contemplate child custody and the holidays – but not all!  Take a few moments to dust off your divorce decree to determine what, if any, special accommodations the court ordered for July 4th.  Particularly where, as this year, the holiday is smack dab in the middle of the week, it is possible neither you nor your child’s other parent has spent much time considering how the child will be spending this particular holiday.
As long as you have your divorce decree handy, take a moment to review the arrangements for Labor Day, as well as other holidays during the upcoming school year.  Back to school will be here before you know it.  It doesn’t hurt to plan a bit ahead.

Child Custody and the Holidays: For Those Who Don’t Have a Child Custody Schedule Yet

If you are in the early stages of divorcing, you may not have a child custody schedule.  Or, you may find yourself in a waiting period between when you first separated, and when your divorce is final.  This is often a time when oversights or mistakes in the original agreement become apparent.  Take a few moments to consider not only the Fourth of July holiday, but the other holidays your family values.
For any holiday important to your family, consider how this holiday might be divided. Of course, if a particular holiday is only important to one side, this can make things easier.  For example, if one side of the family considers the Labor Day weekend to be used for one last hurrah at the beach, but the other side of the family has no attachment to the day, assigning this holiday to the spouse that values the day makes more sense.  This also gives the other parent a bit of bargaining for a different holiday.
Different families divide holidays differently.  Some families simply trade every other holiday, alternating years.  Other families split the actual day, with one parent enjoying the morning with the children, and the other parent having the children for the afternoon or evening.  In still other cases, important days such as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are divided with the mom having her full day, and the dad having his full day.  In marriages of same-sex couples, some divide the two days, others divide the one day.  For couples that can agree, it is often just a matter of preference.

Child Custody and the Holidays: The Importance of Family Holidays

Many families have holidays of their own.  Perhaps the third week in August is always reserved for the family trip back to Pennsylvania for a family reunion.  Families with adopted children may have “gotcha days” they celebrate, in addition to birthdays.  Some families consider a child’s birthday to be an important holiday, while others don’t do anything special to observe that day.  When considering custody and parenting time post-divorce, a couple that is willing and able to negotiate a custody and parenting time schedule has the flexibility to work these types of important family days into their custody schedule.

Child Custody and the Holidays: Developing New Traditions

After a divorce, some families choose to develop new traditions, in recognition of the fact both parents can’t have the child for the full length of a given special day.  Some families choose to celebrate Thanksgiving the following Saturday.  Christmas Eve Eve can be celebrated just as easily as Christmas Eve itself.  When a family divorces, some traditions will be preserved.  However, other traditions may necessarily fall by the wayside.  When that happens, both parents have the option of inventing a new day or days, and new ways to celebrate.  Families are limited only by their imagination.

Child Custody and the Holidays: Keeping Old Traditions

Not every family is interested in, or even capable of celebrating the same traditions as a family after a divorce.  However, it is not unheard of for a divorced family to trick or treat together on Halloween – or even break bread together on Thanksgiving.  Every family has to decide what is best for their situation.  Often, particularly the first year or two, a family may not feel ready to celebrate together.  However, as time goes on, some families decide to do so.

Child Custody and the Holidays: Keeping Track of School Holidays

Sometimes, the children’s school may observe a holiday that neither parent finds particularly important.  Additionally, things like parent-teacher conferences or teacher prep days can result in the kids having the day off from school.  Make certain you and your child’s other parent have discussed daycare commitments on such days.  These may be accounted for in your divorce decree – or not.

Child Custody and the Holidays: When You Don’t Have the Children

It is unlikely a parent will get the children for every holiday they’d like after the divorce, under the precise conditions they would prefer.  Put another way, there will be some holidays where you don’t have your children.  What you choose to do with your time is up to you.  Some parents choose to spend the day with other family members, or close friends.  Some parents spend the day volunteering for an agency that does something that is meaningful to them.  Still other parents choose to spend the day alone.  There is no right or wrong answer for what to do with your time during a holiday alone.  However, it is a good idea to think about what one might do ahead of time.

If You are Divorcing

When divorcing, it is a good idea to have an experienced family law attorney on your side, advocating for your rights.  Even if this is not your first divorce, you may count on the fact the attorneys at Fait & DiLima have handled a multitude of divorce cases.  Each divorce case is different, however, there are some common issues and concerns.  Our family law attorneys can anticipate potential areas of conflict and address them before they become an issue for you and your family.  Contact us today for a consultation.

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