December is typically the busiest (and most stressful) time at the Court. Even if you do not celebrate Christmas, children still have time off from school and it is common for families to depart from their regular parenting schedule. If you do not have a formal parenting plan in place to address parenting time over the holidays, you should start discussing the holiday parenting schedule in early fall. This will allow you plenty of time in the event the issue of the holiday parenting schedule needs to go to court or to an Arbitrator.
However, your goal should be to stay out of the Courts. If you are unable to agree on a holiday parenting schedule, the Judge or Arbitrator will set the holiday schedule.
To avoid stress and conflict when determining a holiday parenting schedule, here are some tips:
- Advance communication: Give yourself enough time to negotiate a holiday parenting schedule. For December holidays, start these discussions in September.
- Be Flexible: Holiday parenting schedules may change from year to year. As your children get older, their needs will change.
- Focus on what is best for the children: When possible, take into consideration the children’s views and preferences. It is always in the best interests of the children to not be surrounded by conflict.
Once you have reached an agreement, make sure it is in writing. If you want your agreed upon holiday parenting schedule to be binding, write the terms into a Consent Order and get it filed with the Courts.
If you are unsure about how to navigate parenting time with your ex-spouse or there has been a breakdown in communications, the lawyers at Kirk Montoute Dawson LLP can help develop a parenting schedule to deal with all holiday parenting time now and in the future.
Written by Sarah Macdonald