State laws on child custody are complex and always require a law expert to guide you through. One of the most important parts of a child custody agreement for both the parents and kids is child visitation rights. Besides monetary spousal support, children may still be required to see and receive love from both parents.
Holidays are a special time and it is only normal for a parent to want to spend every other one of them with their child. However, this is not always possible for divorced couples, and especially the non-custodial parent.
To ensure that children get to see both parents as the court mandates, ex-partners can come up with a settlement agreement or receive a child custody order. Failing to comply with a visitation order, the court may provide protection to the child and other parent, if they initiate legal action.
Settlement Agreement vs. a Child Custody Order
An out-of-court settlement agreement on children’s holiday visitation is exactly what it sounds like.
If you and your ex-partner are on amicable terms, the court can give both of you the liberty to come up with a reasonable visitation schedule. The partners can work out a plan that accommodates their work, location, and living conditions, but most importantly, it should be in the child’s best interest.
Keep in mind that the parent with custody rights still holds the final decision. They are also not legally bound to agree to any proposed schedule. A parent with the best interest of the child, however, would not turn down a logical visitation plan that works for the three parties.
However, it is not always easy to be in good communication terms with your ex. In such cases, planning a visitation schedule may add salt to the wound and cause further conflict. Here, the judge serves a fixed child custody order detailing holiday visitations. For the non-custodial parent, the court may assign supervised visitations.
Most Common Holiday Visitation Plans
Child custody orders and settlement agreements alike will use either or a combination of the methods below for parents to share holiday time with their kids:
Each parent is assigned to spend time with their child on the same holidays every year. The custodial party may have Thanksgiving, while the non-custodial spends Christmas holidays with the child.
If there is a special holiday that is not included in the schedule, such as a religion-specific holiday, the non-custodial parent can seek permission to spend the day with the child.
You can also swap the holidays each parent spends with the child each year to ensure a sense of fairness. If parent A spends the Christmas season with the child this year, parent B does the same next year, and so on.
The Child Spends a Holiday Twice
A child can also spend the holiday season with both parents but on different days. The parents determine two dates that are close to a holiday and assign them visitation days. For instance, one parent can have the child on 25th of December for Christmas, while the other on the 28th of December.
Splitting a Holiday in Half
This plan is only ideal for parents who live close to one another. This way, the child spends a half day with one parent and the other half with the other parent.
Though not so common, some parents may spend one or two holidays together as a family, even after the divorce is finalized.
Important Factors to Consider when Making a Holiday Visitation Schedule
- Any holiday traditions that your child observes
- Location of both parents
- School and other co-curricular activities that may crash with visitation time
- Parents’ religious or traditional holiday practices
- Work and travel schedules for both parents