By Cara L. Boroda, Esq.
Van Oorschot Law Group PC
Thankfully, the 2021 holidays will look a lot different this year thanks to the vaccinations. In the realm of family law, this means that holiday parenting plans will have some semblance of normalcy as opposed to the difficulties presented by the 2020 pandemic holidays.
Despite life slowly returning to normal, parents will still face the reoccurring problems and questions that are frequently associated with the holidays. The key to dealing with these issues is to plan early and most importantly, to plan with specificity.
Specific Holiday Plans
Many parenting plans include vague agreements that the parties are to “meet and confer to create a holiday schedule” or that the holidays shall be “divided equally between the parties”.
For many, these unclear provisions lead to conflict between parents, uncertain plans, and frustration. In order to avoid the storm before the joy of the holiday season, it is best to create a specific holiday plan. Below are some things to consider:
- What time will the holiday specifically start? When will it end?
- Will the holiday be divided into two equal parts (i.e. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day)?
- Will the holiday schedule supersede the regular parenting plan?
- What is the mid-point in your child’s winter break?
- Will the definition of the winter break include the holidays, or will the holidays be separately defined within the child’s winter break?
If an order from the court regarding the holidays already exists and one parent refuses to agree to change it at the request of the other, or one parent refuses to create the holiday schedule, a parent will need to seek relief from the court.
In order to get the request before the court prior to the holidays, a parent must address the holiday issues months before the actual holidays. Thus, be prepared to have a proposed, specific holiday schedule for the court, and prepare to explain to the court why you believe your proposed holiday schedule is in your child’s best interests. While it may feel strange to address the holidays in the Fall, it’s important to do so to ensure the matter is heard by the court well before the holidays.
A family law attorney experienced in custody and parenting plans can assist in creating a specific holiday schedule that can help avoid the frustration in dealing with an ambiguous holiday plan with the other parent. It’s never too early to start planning ahead to ensure the 2021 holiday season is truly one of the most wonderful times of the year for both you and your child.