During the holiday season, it is a good time to discuss child custody and visitation schedules, and how holiday visitation schedules interact with the regular schedule. Kids naturally want to be with both their Mom and their Dad during the holidays, but unfortunately, they can’t be in two places at once. This means working out a holiday visitation schedule that is fair for both parents and is in-keeping with the best interests of the children.
In a divorce or parentage case, parents should try to work out a holiday visitation schedule on their own. Each family is unique and has its own traditions, and not every holiday has the same level of importance. Even ex-spouses or unmarried parents who are living separately may prioritize various holidays differently. For example, Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July might be more important to one parent, while the other might place a higher value on Christmas and Easter. And of course, Mother’s Day is usually spent with the mother while Father’s Day is spent with the father.
Visitation and the Holidays in California
By talking through the various holidays with your ex, you can usually come to some type of agreement on how the holiday visitation schedule will be set up. In California, a standard schedule often involves rotating visitation during the holidays in even and odd years. Here is an example of how that might work:
- Children spend Thanksgiving week (Wednesday through Sunday) with their father during even-numbered years, and with their mother during odd-numbered years.
- Children are with their father for Christmas eve until the morning of Christmas day during odd-numbered years, and with their mother during this time in even-numbered years.
- Children stay with their father from Christmas morning until the following day during even-numbered years, and this switches to their mother during odd-numbered years.
- Children spend this time period with their father in odd-numbered years, and with their mother in even-numbered years.
- Children go with their father on New Year’s Day morning until the next day during even-numbered years, and this switches to their mother during odd-numbered years.
The additional holidays throughout the year rotate in similar fashion, and adjustments are made based on the importance the parents and children place on each holiday. A workable schedule should also be developed for school breaks, birthdays, and other special occasions. Various factors might necessitate other adjustments to the visitation schedule. These may include the locations of each parent, how far away they live from each other, work schedules of each parent, extra-curricular activities the kids are involved in, and many others.
What Happens when Holiday Visitation Conflicts with the Regular Visitation Schedule?
One common question that often arises is what happens when the holiday visitation schedule is in conflict with the normal schedule. For example, let’s say the father has the kids on the second and fourth weekends of the month, Thanksgiving falls on the third weekend of the month, and this is the father’s year to have the kids over Thanksgiving. When this occurs, the holiday schedule generally takes precedence over the regular visitation schedule.
In this scenario, the father would have the kids for the weekend of Thanksgiving, even though it falls on the third weekend of the month when the kids would normally be with their mother. This would mean that the father would have the kids for three consecutive weekends; the second, third, and fourth. It is important to note that in a standard visitation schedule, holiday visitation does NOT reset the regular visitation schedule when this situation occurs. In other words, just because the father had the kids for the second weekend (his regular weekend) and the third weekend (Thanksgiving), that does not mean the schedule would reset and the mother would take the kids on the fourth weekend.
This may not seem fair, but it is important to keep in mind that, if the regular visitation schedule was reset every time there was a conflict with the holiday schedule, the parents would not be receiving the extra holiday time they are supposed to receive. In addition, you must keep in mind that inequalities like these will generally even out over time. You may lose a couple days this year, but it is likely you will gain some time because of holiday visitation schedule overrides in future years.
Speak with a Compassionate San Diego Family Law Attorney
Holiday visitation schedules can get complicated, and it may sometimes be difficult to work these out, especially when an ex is being unreasonable. When this is the case, it is highly beneficial to have a skilled attorney by your side advocating forcefully for your rights and interests.
At Garmo and Garmo, we are seasoned family law attorneys, and we have served countless clients in San Diego, El Cajon, and the surrounding Southern California communities. We work closely with our clients, taking the time to listen and understand their needs and develop practical and innovative solutions to meet their needs and protect their interests.
For a personalized consultation with one of our attorneys, contact our office today at 619-441-2500 or send us a message through our web contact form.