By Katherine V. Lewis
Although the holidays are generally a happy time, they can often be a source of increased difficulty and stress for parents and children going through a divorce and even those who have already gone through a divorce.
For parents who have not completed the divorce process and do not have a court order in place, it is critical to plan ahead and agree to a parenting time schedule well in advance, including specific dates and times, as well as exchange locations.
The more specific a schedule is, the less likely there will be conflict.
For example, it is common for holiday schedules to award alternating holiday visitation from the time school recesses for winter break until a specific time on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day and then from the exchange on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day until 8:00 pm the day before school resumes.
If the child is not yet school age, the schedule should make clear that any holiday visitation should follow the school schedule of where the child would be enrolled.
As every parent has the right to know where his or her child is located, any order addressing visitation should also include a provision for alerting each parent if either intends to take the child out of the state. Each parent should be required to provide the location and duration of the stay, as well as an emergency contact number.
If there is an order in place and the mother has made clear that she will not comply, seek legal advice from a men’s divorce attorney as soon as possible.
One potential way to address such a problem is to file a Motion to Enforce Visitation and request an expedited hearing. As courts are often inundated with holiday visitation issues, it is imperative to act quickly so there can be a resolution prior to the holidays.
If the holidays come and go and the mother refused to allow the court-ordered holiday visitation, a contempt citation should be filed and make-up parenting time should be requested, including additional time at the holidays the following year.
As is the case regarding visitation for any time of year, a father should always document when he is refused visitation with his child, as this can be used against the mother in court later to show that she is acting unreasonably or contrary to the child’s best interests.