By Daren Neel
In this holiday season, many parents realize that based on their regular parenting schedule they do not have any parenting time on either Thanksgiving or Christmas.
In a scramble to have parenting time with their children on these important holidays, many parents will try to file a motion for a specific holiday parenting schedule a week or two before the holiday.
Unfortunately, based on the realities of an overwhelmed court system, many courts will not entertain motions for specific holiday parenting time immediately before the holiday.
The court will reason that it does not have the time to conduct a hearing on the issue and cannot modify parenting time (even for a holiday) without first holding a hearing.
Accordingly, they will rule that holiday parenting time will follow the normal parenting schedule absent an agreement to the contrary.
When the other parent realizes that they will have all of Thanksgiving and Christmas based on the regular parenting schedule, there is very little motivation on their part to negotiate at that time when they see that the court is not going to do anything about it this year.
If you discover that you do not have a specific holiday schedule it likely is too late for this year, but you should begin trying to work this out in late September or October next year.
While it may seem early to begin planning for next year’s Thanksgiving or Christmas, many courts set hearings a couple of months from the time a motion is filed.
Accordingly, it is important when you are negotiating a settlement of your case (or when you proceed to trial) that you make sure you request a specific holiday visitation schedule be put in place.
This will ensure when the holidays come around that both parents are able to celebrate the holidays with their children. It is typically much easier to negotiate an equitable holiday schedule when the holiday is not right around the corner.
Of course, you are always free to work with the other parent to modify the holiday schedule depending on the present circumstances that might have not been foreseen.
However, if you and the other parent are not able to come to an agreement, you will already have a court-ordered holiday schedule guaranteeing you holiday parenting.
In summary, it is my suggestion that as soon as you see a retailer who places out their first Christmas decoration (sometime in late September or October if your retailers are like mine), ask yourself if you are satisfied with the parenting time you are scheduled to have on any of the upcoming major holidays.
If you are not, then it is the perfect time to try and get the schedule that you do want.
This article is intended to provide a brief overview of planning for holiday parenting time. It is not intended to provide any sort of legal advice and should not be construed to be such. If you are in need of legal advice, please contact a men’s divorce attorney located in the state in which you reside.