With the holiday season wrapping up, I wanted to take a minute to share with you some information on how to maintain family traditions during holiday parenting time and how to preserve the joy of holidays that your children have. This way your children can enjoy spending time with both parents in future holidays.
The Michigan Legislature recognized that the best interests of children of divorced or separated parents are best served by having and preserving a strong relationship with both parents. Children have a right to parenting time with both parents unless the court determines on the record by clear and convincing evidence that exercising parenting time with one parent would endanger the children’s physical, mental, or emotional health (MCL 722.27a). Parenting time includes weekday dinners, weekends, and holidays.
Holiday parenting time is the time that a parent spends with the children during a specified holiday, such as the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, or Christmas. Holiday parenting time will take precedence over regularly scheduled parenting time. This may result in one parent have two or three weekends in a row with the children because of the holiday day parenting time schedule. The traditional holidays observed across the state as part of holiday parenting time have included Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas (Winter) Break, and Spring Break.
However, the Supreme Court Administrative Office recently moved away from standard parenting time schedules in favor ones that meet each family’s unique needs and circumstances. The new guidelines encourage parents to create a schedule that is unique to their families. This means that parents will need to work together to create a holiday parenting time schedule that maintains the family traditions that the children have grown up with. Some families will include Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, the children’s birthdays, religious holidays, other extended school breaks, and Halloween in their parenting time agreements. Others will celebrate holidays celebrated by their faith or culture. No matter what holiday are selected, the holidays are rotated on an annual basis. The extended school breaks, such as Christmas break and summer break, may be equally divided by the parties. The holiday parenting time when finalized should work for your family and maintain those familiar traditions your children.
The best holiday parenting time schedule for children of any age is one that considers the child’s age, extracurricular activities or anticipated extracurricular activities, the distance between the parties’ home, the parties’ work schedules, and the observed holidays of the family. By agreeing during your divorce or custody proceeding on a parenting time schedule that includes the celebrated holidays for your family, the joy of the holidays will continue long after the judgment has been entered. If your judgment was entered with a standard holiday schedule that no longer works for your family, consider entering a stipulated order to modify the holidays. This is an option available to families across the state when parties can reach mutual agreements.
We know how important it is for children to experience holidays with only the joy, awe, and wonder that a child has during those early childhood years. We educate our clients how to preserve this childhood excitement for holidays as the family structure is redefined. Our firm’s unique approach to redefining family can help you find a holiday parenting time schedule that serves your child best interests and promotes a strong healthy relationship with the other parent. Call us today to see how we can help you redefine your family while maintaining those important holiday traditions.