The holidays are always a special time spent with family and friends. Busy, exciting, and … fraught with legal issues? What do you do if you have a parenting time issue over the holidays in your dissolution or post-decree matter?
The starting point is your Judgment and Decree or current court order that governs holidays. If at all possible, it is best to stick within the confines of what you have already been legally granted by a judge, as it is as a close to a “sure bet” as you can get. But, if something comes up and you need to adjust that this year, or you don’t have an order yet, what can you do? Well, you are going to have to work with the other parent – so keep these three considerations in mind.
- Be Flexible
- Try and see if you can reach agreement with the other side, either through attorneys or directly, make sure to put it in writing with confirmation both ways, and be as specific as possible including times and exchange locations, to avoid further disputes at the last minute. It is worthwhile to consider compromise, as it is unlikely that either party will be granted everything they want if you put the issue to the judge to decide.
- Address the Matter Early
- If you are going to need to file a motion, even an emergency one, you want to give yourself and the court as much time as possible to address the issue. Remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! Getting an agreement in place or bringing a motion early is best, but if you can’t, make sure that you are considering what you propose from the child’s point of view, as that is what the judge is likely to do as well in an emergency request.
- Consider your Child
- Whatever request you make must be made in terms of what is in your child’s best interests, so your demand for time that eliminates time with the other parent or their extended family is unlikely to be viewed favorably. Instead, try to fashion a proposal that takes into consideration your child’s age, their need to spend time with both side of the family, bedtime routines, religious attendance at services, etc. This is how you persuade a judge that your proposal should be approved for the division of time between you and the other parent.
Always remember that all parts of a divorce require compromise and flexibility. It is about creating a new normal, new routines, new traditions, and new memories. And that can be done on December 24th, December 25th, or any other day. If you are able to work it out – even if you have to celebrate a different day – your child will have even more opportunities with both parents and both sides of the family to find a positive holiday experience! And that’s a win for everyone, in an area of law where there are very few wins.
If you have questions regarding your situation, please reach out to attorney Mary Rannells Rowan at 952-746-2180 or [email protected].