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Holidays are often a stressful time for functional couples. Planning get-togethers, dealing with extended family, and organizing events set tension at high. Adding in a separation or divorce, and suddenly the holidays might be unbearable. Setting boundaries is an effective way to manage the chaos of divorce. Establishing these same guidelines for the required holiday schedule is a must for effective family planning.
While divorcing, many parties will think that they will remain collaborative and cooperative forever and on every issue. Some couples might endure in that tradition, but more likely than not, there will be a dispute raised along the way. Parties can always remain flexible with each other regarding their Parenting Plan court order but having a fallback provision is always best practice to future proof.
Here are some ways to think about the big holidays for cases in dissolution.
The Parenting Plan will allow the parties to individually calendar exchange times for Christmas, New Years, and Winter Break (along with do-it-yourself provisions for other holidays). In some circumstances, these limited holiday exchanges might work well, and the parties should endeavor to make them as specific as possible.
If parties (1) live near each other and (2) have a reasonable relationship, splitting the break in half tends to be much easier. Husband might take from the end of school until December 25th at 1 PM, and Wife might take until school begins in an even year. In an odd year, the roles reverse to keep things fair. This allows equal time while the kids are off from school and removes the need for constant holiday exchanges.
The holiday being on a Thursday each year makes Thanksgiving a bit more predictable and exchanging for that one day is a distinct possibility. To make things easier, parties will off switch even and odd years and set the holiday in one of two ways. Party A might take from end of school until Friday morning, while Party B then gets until return to school. Alternatively, the Wife might get the entire break in odd years and give her ex-partner the break in even years.
To keep this one simple, parties often find it easiest to give their soon-to-be ex-spouse “their” holiday every year. The question just becomes what day and time the exchange occurs.
As always, splitting Independent Day even and odd years is acceptable while adjusting the date and time of exchange depending on the parties’ goals. Often, leaving the 4th of July as part of the summer schedule allows the parties to “claim” it each year if they want to celebrate while leaving flexibility if it is less important.
Labor Day, Veteran’s Day, Martin Luther King Day, and other three-day weekends are included in the Parenting Plan form. While you can switch them even and odd years, it is often easier to merely tack them onto whomever has the weekend associated with the holiday. Unless the specific holidays are meaningful to your family, this type of plan reduces conflict and exchanges.
No matter your family situation, there will always be disruptions and complexities involved. Holidays are no different. Sometimes Easter and Halloween might be disputed, and other cases might ignore holidays altogether. Understanding your goals and family traditions is important, so be sure to provide your attorney with all the relevant information. The experienced family law litigators at the law offices of Magnuson Lowell, PS are ready and able to help you protect your holidays. Call today for a free case evaluation.