A Divorce Attorney Near Philadelphia Can Help Resolve Holiday Custody Schedules for Children of Separated Parents
Many “emergencies” arise around the winter holidays when divorced or separated parents realize at the last minute that they do not agree on how their custody time with their children should be divided for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah or Christmas. Most custody orders entered by the court will provide for a holiday schedule in which the parents alternate certain holidays and specify the start and end times for those holidays. This is true even if the parties do not share custody on an equal basis. But sometimes parents enter into custody agreements that vaguely state that they will “alternate major holidays,” and other times they have no written custody agreement at all because they have been able to work everything out so far. Philadelphia area-based Vetrano|Vetrano & Feinman LLC can provide guidance from an experienced divorce attorney on how to proceed with managing your child’s holiday visits with each parent.
This leaves the parents with many unanswered questions. What are the “major holidays” that should be alternated? Does Thanksgiving just mean the Thursday of the holiday, or does it mean from after school on Wednesday until the next Monday morning? Does one parent get Christmas Eve and the other get Christmas Day, or is Christmas just one holiday? Without a specific holiday schedule in place, this all needs to be worked out by agreement of the parents, who are often times not able to agree on many things. If no agreement is reached, one of the parents must file either a complaint or a petition with the court, so that an order can be entered that provides for a specific holiday schedule.
Other issues arise when one parent will not agree for the other parent to travel with the children out of state or out of the country for a holiday. In the majority of cases, parents share legal custody of their children, which means that they must make all major decisions regarding the children jointly. This includes applying for or renewing a passport, or even allowing a child to fly on a plane. Therefore, once again, if the parents are not able to come to an agreement on such an issue, they must file a petition with the court.
The problem is that disagreements regarding holiday schedules and holiday travel are not true emergencies, so the court will most likely need to deal with them in due course. This often means that a conference or hearing will not be scheduled for at least 4-6 weeks after the complaint or petition is filed. Therefore, it is very important for divorced or separated parents to start the discussion on holiday schedules and travel well in advance of the holiday, so that they know whether there will be an agreement or whether they will need to take action through the court.
If you find yourself in this situation, a Vetrano|Vetrano & Feinman LLC divorce attorney in Philadelphia can help you negotiate a custody agreement that includes a fair and specific holiday schedule, or litigate the issue in court. Call (610)-265-4441 to contact us today.