Co-Parenting for the Holidays: Preparing for Your Holiday Parenting Time
As I type this blog post, there are thirty-one days until Thanksgiving and sixty days until Christmas. In my experience as a family law attorney, these are two of the most sought-after holidays in terms of parenting time, but there are certainly a variety of holidays that many people hold near and dear in the coming months. Sooner rather than later, parents should coordinate to make sure that plans are in place to ensure that the holidays go off without a hitch. If you already have a court-ordered parenting plan, take a moment to review it; if not, take a moment to reach out to your co-parent to come to an agreement. Here are some considerations to keep in mind while doing so:
- If you have a parenting plan in place, make sure the holiday in question is actually included in your holiday parenting schedule. If it is not and you want it to be, you need to address that as soon as possible.
- Make sure that the holiday is clearly defined.
- For example, Thanksgiving may be defined as from Wednesday after school until Monday morning before school, or it could be much more limited in scope to simply be 8:00 a.m. on Thanksgiving Thursday until 8:00 p.m. that evening.
- If your parenting plan is based upon a Court form that consists of a series of checkboxes allocating holidays to one parent in even-numbered years and the other parent in odd-numbered years, your holiday schedule is not likely to be clearly defined. I have heard parents threaten to exchange children at midnight because one parent was assigned Christmas Eve and the other parent assigned Christmas Day with no designated exchange time. Technically, that’s accurate, but who really wants to spend their Christmas holiday that way?
- Make sure that it specifies which parent is responsible for providing the transportation. Keep this in mind when making plans about where to celebrate the holidays, g., whether you will celebrate at home or at a friend or family member’s house. Cooperate with your coparent to make different transportation arrangements if it makes more sense.
- Follow your parenting plan. If you are traveling for the holidays and want to have parenting time that differs from what is included in your parenting plan, secure an agreement to deviate from the Court order. Be aware that your coparent may very well request accommodations in exchange, and it would be reasonable to cooperate. Effective coparenting requires cooperation and give-and-take.
If you wait until much closer to the holidays, there may be little or no recourse for you should an issue arise; rather, you may be left addressing the matter after the fact. While you may be entitled to some make-up parenting time or your attorney’s fees and costs, that won’t get you back the holiday parenting time with your children that you missed. Whether you are a current client, former client, or new to Dodge & Vega, our office can assist you in making preparations for the upcoming holidays. If you need help reviewing your parenting plan or reaching out to your co-parent, feel free to contact our office at (480) 656-8333.
If you have any questions about Holiday Parenting Time, then contact our office to schedule a free consultation with our firm and know your rights. 480-656-8333.
Kevin Whitacre, Dodge & Vega PLC
Dodge & Vega PLC founded by Ben Dodge, attorney at law. Ben owns and manages a law firm of Affordable Arizona Bankruptcy, Family Law, and Personal Injury Lawyers. He is a nationally certified trial attorney, entrepreneur, endurance Athlete, and extreme Ultra Cyclist.
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