Divorce is always difficult in Indiana even if the couple is on relatively good terms. It is a dramatic life change that carries with it personal, financial and emotional baggage that must be addressed. When there are children from the marriage, this makes it even more complicated. While the case will address custody and parenting time, there is always the potential for discord if certain challenges arise. One consideration that is relevant year-round is how to handle holidays and special occasions. On the surface, it is easy to say that parents should be flexible and understanding with these factors. In practice, it might be complex. There are stipulations in the law that address parenting time in these circumstances and it is important for parents to be aware of them.
Key points about parenting time for holidays and special occasions
When there is a parenting time agreement, there will be a schedule for when the child will be with each parent. The same is true for extended parenting time like summer vacations or spring break. The holiday schedule will supersede that. When the parents have the child on alternating weekends, that will be maintained. If a weekend is lost because the other parent had the child for a holiday, it will not be made up. If parents have consecutive weekends based on a holiday, they will have the child for the third weekend.
The holiday schedule is based on defined holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving as well special occasions like birthdays, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. For Mother’s Day/Father’s Day, the child will be with the relevant parent from Friday at 6:00 p.m. through Sunday at 6:00 p.m. On a child’s birthday, the parents will alternate years. In an even-numbered year like 2022, the non-custodial parent has the child from 9:00 a.m. on that day through 9:00 p.m. If it is a school day, it is from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. In an odd year like 2021, the non-custodial parent will have the child the day before the birthday with these same hours.
For Christmas vacation, it starts on the final day of school through the day before school is set to restart. The parents will each have half the vacation with the child. The custodial parent gets the child in even-numbered years for the first half; the non-custodial parent for the second half. It is the opposite in odd-numbered years. Of course, if the parents are amicable and can negotiate on their own, they can trade days and work it out themselves. Other holidays like Presidents’ Day, Labor Day and Memorial Day have their own rules for an extended weekend. Generally, it follows the even-year and odd-year template with the parents getting the child from 6:00 p.m. on the last day of school through 7:00 p.m. the following Monday. For those whose religions do not observe Christmas, they can add the days – Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan – to the schedule.
To ensure parenting time laws are followed, it is useful to have legal advice
Family law cases can be worrisome and that extends to parenting time for holidays. Parents might forget about this and it is the foundation for disagreement and outright dispute as they try to come to a consensus as to when the child will be with which parent for various holidays. These guidelines are in place to have a template to work from and prevent escalating disputes. In some instances, the parents might consider putting differences aside and sharing the holiday. Regardless of the situation and how the parents are interacting, it is important to be aware of holiday schedules and all other areas of parenting time. When there are concerns, having assistance from experienced professionals can smooth the process.