Custody arrangements involving the holidays can be complex and very frustrating for divorced couples. In general, custody between the major holidays is determined by either alternating odd/even years, by the sequence of the holidays (Father gets Memorial Day, Mother gets the Fourth of July), or the type of holiday (Mother’s Day belongs to the Mother, or if a party observes a certain religious holiday, they get the children for that holiday). For holidays like the time surrounding Christmas/New Year’s (since children are home from school during this period of time) or Hanukkah that have multiple days, you can divide the days equally between the two parents. For example, the Mother can have Christmas Eve with the children and the Father can have Christmas Day or the Mother can get the first 3 and a half days of Thanksgiving week and the Father can have the rest. As you can tell, there are several ways that custody arrangements can be arranged. Keep in mind that these can always be changed even after the court orders a certain arrangement to better suit a parent’s needs. For example, the person has new work obligations that prevent them from taking his/her children on a certain holiday that was assigned to them. Another example is if a parent wants more time with their children around a certain holiday if there are logistical/transportation concerns (i.e. Children can stay with the mother through “Mother’s Day weekend” as opposed to just Mother’s Day in order to reduce travel time.)
Another important issue regarding holiday custody schedules is how they affect other custody arrangements. Holiday custody schedules typically supersede other custody arrangements such as regular visitation or vacation schedules. Take for example if the custody arrangement requires that the parents alternate each weekend but a particular weekend coincides with a holiday/holiday weekend, the person who has custody on that holiday would be given preference over the regular scheduled custody visitation. The court can make the decision, however, it is always best to negotiate with the other parent to possibly make up a weekend by substituting another weekend that you were given custody. The most crucial issue in making custody arrangements (not just applicable to holiday schedules) is that it works best for the children.
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