Practical tips to avoid holiday parenting time problems

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for CMD close.jpgDuring the holiday season our office receives tons of questions from our clients about how to handle holiday parenting time. Attorney Christine Douglas helps individuals resolve a variety of legal issues that arise in families. With over 18 years experience guiding her clients through these types family law matters, Ms. Douglas offers advice on how to avoid holiday parenting time problems.

  1. Use common sense. Be flexible and focus on your child. If you are focusing on “your rights” or the other parent, you are not thinking about your child. The holidays should not be a battleground—ever! Be the better parent and avoid all confrontation. If the other parent is unwilling to be flexible with the holidays, then you should be flexible. You are not being taken advantage of–you are thinking about your child. You are helping create wonderful memories for your child and not holiday memories of on-going fighting and bitterness.
  2. Keep a diary of dates and times of parenting time and especially any modifications. Make sure all conversations about parenting time is limited to email so you have a record of who requested what, when parenting time was requested and how it was decided. If you ever have to go to court in regard to parenting time, you can show the Judge your efforts to be cooperative, reasonable and flexible.
  3. Do not focus on “the day”. Who gets the child for Christmas Day seems to cause a lot of problems. Although Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines tries to resolve this issue, strict application of the Guidelines sometimes creates unrealistic results. If you cannot agree on who gets Christmas Day, be the better parent and celebrate Christmas on a different day with your child. Family is what makes Christmas special not a calendar day. If you want to see your child run down the stairs on Christmas morning, celebrate another day as Christmas morning before or after December 25th.
  4. Many school holiday breaks this year begin on Friday December 19, 2014 and end on Sunday, January 4, 2015—17 overnights. The IPTG state that the custodial parent shall have the first half of Christmas vacation and the other parent shall have the second half. Christmas vacation begins two hours after the Child is released from school for break and the second half ends at 6:00 p.m. on the day before school begins. The Guidelines do not state the exact time that the first break ends and the second week begins. Additionally, IPTG state that the non-custodial parent gets Christmas Day from noon to 9:00 p.m.

If you and the other parent cannot agree on how to divide this year’s holiday parenting time, you may want to consider the following example holiday parenting time calendar:

parenting time calendar.jpg

If the other parent has shown no ability to be flexible or reasonable, AFTER the holidays contact a family law attorney and discuss what options (legal and non-legal) are available to you. Before I recommend that a client seek a Judge’s assistance to resolve a problem, I often recommend that they try to resolve the problem on their own so they are more credible when they go to court.
If you would like to discuss the special circumstances surrounding your situation and possible legal and non-legal options, please contact me for a legal consultation. Legal consultations usually take about one hour, but I am happy to spend as much time with you as you need. I charge by the hour and during your consultation I will discuss and evaluate your specific situation and advise you on a path forward.

The attorneys of Harden Jackson Law are devoted to servicing clients throughout the Indianapolis area and the state of Indiana in all areas family law, including divorce, custody, child support, property division, paternity, post-divorce modifications, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, simple wills, adoption, surrogacy and other areas of assisted reproductive technology law. For more information, please contact Leah Potter at 317.569.0770 or www.hardenjacksonlaw.com.

Remember, these suggestions are not meant to be legal advice. You should consult a family law attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation.