Articles Tagged with holidays

Parenting plans should be drafted to fit the needs of the particular children whose lives (or residential schedules at least) will be governed by them.  This includes spending extra time thinking about how the child will be best served during their winter break from school and during the winter holidays.  There are many different ways the winter breaks and holidays can be scheduled within a parenting plan.  Below please find a few examples:

  1. Break Split Down the Middle.   For some families, the importance of the number of days of the break spent with either parent supersedes the importance of any winter holidays the family might celebrate.  This is also the choice of families who choose not to celebrate holidays.
  2. Break Split Down the Middle but Include Holidays.  This plan is similar to the plan described above, but also provides that the child will reside with one parent or the other for the holidays the family celebrates.  This plan can work well as it ensures nearly equal time spent with both parents, and also allows for alternating holiday schedules so both parents get an opportunity to celebrate with the children.  However, it can also mean more transitions for the children, and may be difficult in cases where the parents live far apart.

After Halloween, Thanksgiving will be right around the corner. This holiday is included in Washington’s Parenting Plan Pattern form. Parents can choose to modify the form to schedule the holiday in a way that makes sense for their children (in rare circumstances, the court may choose to overrule the parents’ decisions). For many two-home (i.e., unmarried or separated parents) families this means the children will spend the Thanksgiving holiday with only one of their parents. And, some parents will be spending the holiday without their kids. Families choose to schedule the Thanksgiving holiday in a number of ways. Here are some of the ways two-home families choose to schedule their Thanksgiving holiday.

  1. Only the Thursday. Some parents choose to schedule the Thanksgiving holiday as just one day. The child (or children) will be schedule to reside with one parent for Thanksgiving Day and then the child will resume their normal holiday schedule. This is generally the default.
  2. Thursday through Friday. In this schedule the child is with the parent scheduled to have the child for the Thursday Thanksgiving and following Friday. This means that the child returns to the normal residential schedule for the weekend.

Parenting plans plan the schedule for your child for every day (and even every hour) of the child’s life. Well written parenting plans should reflect the needs and interests of the child and the child’s parents. This includes the religious beliefs of the involved parties. Here are three areas of Washington State parenting plans that may be affected by the parties’ religion(s):

  1. The holiday schedule. This one is pretty obvious. Many religions celebrate (or abstain from celebrating) certain holidays. The parenting plan should reflect this. If both parents celebrate the same holidays, most plans alternate the schedule to have the child with one parent one year, and the other parent the following year. If the parents celebrate different holidays (for example Christmas and Hanukkah) many plans have the child spending the holiday with the parent that celebrates (in the case of Christmas and Hanukkah, the priority would have to go to one holiday each year in case of a conflict).
  2. The other section. Some families choose to add other directives to the parents in the other section. They might choose to include religious dietary choices (like feeding the child vegetarian, participating in fasts, or avoiding certain meats). This section may also include the choice of religion the parents have made for the child and an agreement to take the child to church.
  3. Decision making. The parents may choose to designate (or the court may order) one parent to make religious decisions for the child. This means the designated parent will have the ability to choose the child’s religious involvement.

If you or your child’s other parent is religious, it is important that you advise your family law attorney of this information. The more information you provide your attorney regarding how you plan to raise your child, the better your attorney can draft a parenting plan tailored to your child’s needs.

If you have questions about your parenting plan, or any other family law issue, please contact us today.

Unmarried parents creating parenting plans often expect to have to share their children for Christmases, birthdays and Thanksgivings. What they usually haven’t contemplated is sharing sick days, Veterans Days, MLK Days and Presidents Days. These are all days that often result in kids being out of school while parents still have to work. As most parents agree, these days are often disruptive to their work schedules, especially if the kids do not attend a daycare that allows them to attend on those days.

To avoid confusion, parenting plans are expected to schedule where children will be each day (even each hour) of their lives. This doesn’t mean that they can’t do a weekend at their grandparent’s or an overnight at their friend’s home, but it does mean if those plans fall through, the parent scheduled to have residential time with the child will be responsible to provide care (or find a suitable alternative).

Parenting plans often (and almost always should) provide a time that the transfer from one parent to another happens. Prior to that time, unless otherwise stated, the children should go to the parent with whom they are scheduled to reside. That means that if you are to have the children from 9:00 a.m. on Monday until 9:00 p.m. on Tuesday, and they get sick at 9:45 a.m. on Monday morning, it is likely you that will have to take the day off work (or figure out a suitable alternative). If one of the unmarried parents is a stay-at-home parent to other children, it might make sense to have that parent scheduled to have the children during most school hours. That way, if the kids do get sick, that parent is available to care for them until the other parent is available to take over. Specific circumstances should be discussed with a well-qualified family law attorney.

Most parents in the process of creating or modifying a parenting plan know that they will have to determine a residential schedule for their children. While this is obviously a very important part of the plan, there are other not-so-obvious considerations that should be considered (and potentially discussed with your lawyer) while drafting your parenting plan:

  1. Holidays: Okay, on first blush this might seem obvious – many holidays appear on the  standard parenting plan form itself, but we don’t just mean the holidays already listed on the pattern form. The pattern form parenting plan misses holidays celebrated by many of our clients (ex. Easter, Halloween, Hanukah, Chinese New Year, Ramadan, etc.). If these, or other holidays, are important to you or your children, they should be addressed in your parenting plan.
  2. Special Occasions: Along the same line as number one, the pattern form parenting plan misses several oft-celebrated special occasions. It covers Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, but what about your birthday and/or your child’s birthday?
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