Kids with Christmas Tree

Even while married, couples can have difficulty navigating the holiday season. Grandparents, step-grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and more all want face time during the holidays, especially when a little one is involved. A divorce or separation can add even more complications to the busy holiday season.

It is tempting when negotiating a complex Marital Settlement Agreement to agree to share holidays by agreement and “kick the can down the road.” Unfortunately, such an agreement could cause problems if a disagreement does arise. Courts often have limited time available on their docket around the holidays and may not have time to hear a dispute prior to the holiday itself. In order to avoid last minute conflict, a holiday schedule or a default holiday schedule, that takes controls in the event of a dispute, can solve disagreements when they arise and prevent last minute problems.

The Kentucky Family Court Rules of Practice and Procedure, in Appendix C, suggest a holiday schedule that sets apart time on New Year’s Day, July 4th, Thanksgiving,  Christmas/Winter Break, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, Fall Break or Spring Break, and two consecutive weeks during the Summer Break, and birthday time. The dispute resolution process, such as mediation, offers the opportunity to create a holiday schedule specific to your family’s needs. If you are in the process of negotiating or renegotiating a parenting time agreement, you may want to consider additional religious, cultural, or special holidays that are important to your family.  For example, it may be important to one family to share the High Holy Days of the Jewish year, while another family opts to set aside special time on Halloween.

A schedule regarding special holidays can also be requested in litigation, but the Court may opt to set a default schedule that rotates the holidays between the parents. You will want to talk to an attorney and discuss the most likely outcome of any motions regarding holiday time.

In 2020, the holidays are even more stressful given the rise in COVID-19 cases throughout the country. Check out the CDC holiday recommendations and discuss safety recommendations with your former spouse or partner. Also, check out our Blog on tips for co-parenting towards a happy holiday season.

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