Around the holidays, parents have to navigate how the children are going to spend time with each of them.  From Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day, there are a lot of dates and vacation time to determine.

Ideally, the parents will already have a specific written court order in place for the holidays in their agreement which they can rely on, or are able to sit down and hammer out a schedule that suits everyone.  Parents who expect issues with timesharing should try to obtain an order that is very clear and explicit on details about exchange times and places, who can be present, contact information, what happens if someone is late, etc.   Those parents who get along better might have some additional flexibility built into their agreements.  One size does not fit all.    

Parents are encouraged to start focusing on nailing down holidays and special events at least one month to two months in advance of any important date.  (Most courthouses are closed around holidays).  That advanced planning leaves plenty of time to attempt to resolve any problems outside of court.  If the parents are unable to work out the differences, then this also leaves time to get in front of a judge, if necessary.  

Many parents have agreements that require them to try mediation or another alternative for resolution before presenting any visitation or timesharing issue to the judge. Mediation often involves a neutral person, frequently an attorney, who helps the parties work together to reach a solution where there is an impasse.  A parenting coordinator is a therapist familiar with court processes who can help with bridging the gap on differences and also help the parents improve underlying communication issues.  

Keep in mind that the reality is that the Courts believe the children’s scheduling to be a parenting issue and not a legal issue.  The Courts reason that parents are usually in a much better position to know what is best for their kids than the person in the black robe who might heard testimony for only a few minutes (!) before making a decision that the parties have to follow, even if they don’t like it!  As a result, the Courts expect parents to make every effort to find resolution before asking them to intervene.   

In fact, all of these same principles apply to any visitation or timesharing speed bumps that occur throughout the year.