Pull out the file, blow off the dust and let’s get it started. During the holidays, many a court order have been pulled out of the dusty file folders they call home and referred to because holiday parenting schedules always seem to conflict. Parents become monsters during the holidays and children inevitably get stretched like a rubber band between the two of them. Albeit, a lot of non-custodial parents have no idea that in every custody/visitation order, there is usually a holiday parenting schedule. Some are notated with language such as “as per the Michigan state guideline, etc.” In our state, it is posted on our Secretary of State’s website for anyone to obtain if need be. It describes in detail other breaks as well such as Summer, Spring and Fall.
During the holidays, another issue that has parents in conflict at times is the issue of religion. Although most parents agree on the issue of religion, there are still those that do not. This issue becomes sticky when one parent is exercising his/her visitation during the holidays and is asked by the other parent for permission to interrupt their visitation time in order to take their child to a special service, play or choir concert. Should the other parent exercising visitation concede during their visitation time to allow the other parent to attend with the child? In Indiana, a case just like this was just heard by the Indiana Court of Appeals. In their decision, the court indicated that whether the child must attend services is the prerogative of the parent exercising parenting time. In other words, no, the parent is not required to take the child to services, or allow the other parent to interrupt his/her parenting time to take the child to services (Source: www.indianadivorceblog.com).
In Michigan, holiday parenting time is made very clear. Both parents’ individual holiday and break times are spelled out in either even or odd years and are very specific and well written, even down to weekly/daily telephone contact. (Source: Michigan Parenting Time Guideline). In Ohio, different counties have different guidelines and these guidelines are usually attached when the original custody/visitation order is made. When orders are spelled out in this manner, it makes for far less drama and conflict during special times of the year.
To avoid stress during these festive times, make your plans ahead of time and discuss same with your co-parent(s). Do your best to be flexible (this goes both ways), you don’t have to control everything! Feel free and let go. Remember, your child loves both of you. Encourage them to have fun and to enjoy their time away. Lastly, to alleviate unnecessary stress, take one another’s religious beliefs and traditions into consideration before the start of the holidays. Discuss them ahead of time so it doesn’t have to be an issue. It’s about mutual respect.
Remember, one goal to good parenting is ensuring that you are reserving your time for your child, whether you are the custodial or non-custodial parent. Your time is precious to your precious one. It is your responsibility and most certainly in the best interest of the child you share together.
Peace & Blessings,