Holiday Schedules and Custody: How You and Your Ex Can Each Continue to Make Memories
One important issue that can sometimes be overlooked in working out a custodial schedule with your ex-spouse is where the children will spend holidays. Oftentimes it’s not enough to simply put a schedule into place and let the birthdays, holidays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, etc. fall where they may. In Pennsylvania, Courts will address the issue of a holiday schedule in detail as part of the custody litigation process. A typical Custody Order will cover the “major” holidays including New Year’s, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the children’s birthdays. Needless to say, there are significant holidays that are not included in this list. In addition, this list does not include school holidays like Winter Break and Spring Break where families often times may try and take a vacation.
You should work with your ex-spouse, either directly or through your attorneys, to put together a schedule each year whereby each parent gets to spend some of the “big” holidays and also some of the less-celebrated holidays with the children. Where possible, be sure to make accommodations for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day as well as each parent’s birthday. Although each parent undoubtedly would prefer to have the children at their house for each holiday, keep in mind that your children deserve to celebrate holidays with both of their parents. Make sure that your child can create warm holiday memories with each of their parents and not just with the same parent each year.
Similarly, you should work with your ex-spouse to plan for and accommodate vacations that may “interfere” with the default custody schedule. Remember that if you expect to be able to take the children to the beach for the week, the Courts will want to see a willingness to allow for your ex to do the same. Again, the children benefit from getting to spend extended periods of time with each of their parents having fun and relaxing. Although the holidays may be a source of stress for divorced or separated spouses, that stress should not be put onto your children.
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