How Are Non-Traditional Holidays Added to Parenting Time?

            When it comes to holiday parenting time, there are only four holidays besides the Christmas break that are recognized in the State Court Administrative Office’s Michigan Parenting Time Guideline. Those holidays are Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving. There are also provisions for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. The guidelines state that parties are free to choose up to four (4) other secular or religious holidays. However, many county Friend of the Court offices have a standard holiday parenting time schedule.

            Sometimes our client have felt that they are required to follow the standard schedule for their county. This would be true if an Order from the Court states that the parties must follow the standard schedule. This will happen if the parties are unable to agree how to share parenting time. However, parties can work together to create a schedule for holidays that meets the best interests of their children within a judgment entered by consent. In this type of order, the parties are agreeing to continue to raise their children and exercise parenting time schedule that they have agreed upon that can deviate from the county’s standard schedule.

            Often, this deviation occurs to celebrate religious or secular holidays that are not recognized by the court system. Secular holidays, such as Halloween or Martin Luther King Day,  are not recognized by some counties and can be included in the holiday parenting time schedules. Parties are free to alternate the holidays, split the time on the holiday, or allow the parent that observes the holiday to exercise additional parenting time. The key in choosing to add non-traditional holidays to the parenting time schedule is to preserve family holidays and traditions in the lives of the minor children.

            For instance, extended family members may gather at one house on Halloween and take all the children trick-or-treating in that neighborhood. Often, the costumes may be themed throughout the whole family and include the family pet. In these cases, finding ways to still walk around a neighborhood with the minor children in costumes will demonstrate how to have healthy relationships with extended family members to children. If the parties are unable to be civil for a few hours, then alternating the holidays can teach children to share as they observe their parents and extended family amicably sharing time with the children.

            If you are worried about continuing your families’ holiday traditions after a divorce or break up, call us today. Our team understands the importance of preserving family traditions and maintaining consistency for children. We are ready to help you redefine your family.

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