VICTORIA S. HOLLISTER
Ms. Hollister is a graduate of Penn State University and Temple University School of Law. She is a member of the PA, Montgomery County and Berks County Bar Associations.
Ms. Hollister is the mother of three daughters and resides in Berks County.
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CHILD CUSTODY – HOLIDAY SCHEDULES
It’s officially fall! That means that the kids are back in school and the holiday season will soon be here. Under the best of circumstances, parents may have conflicting work schedules and other complications during the holidays, but it becomes even more difficult when you have two – or more – families that have to coordinate holiday celebrations.
Here are a few points to keep in mind when planning for custody over the holidays:
Develop a holiday schedule: Regardless of the regular custody schedule, most parents have equal time over the holidays with their children. Holidays can be one of the most disputed aspects of a custody agreement, particularly for young children. When creating a schedule, first identify the major holidays that will be shared. If your children are in school, parents often include school holidays in addition to civil and religious holidays. School holidays would include spring break, winter break and teacher in-service days, since the children won’t be attending school on those days.
Consider the children’s needs: Most custody arrangements provide that the children’s vacation schedule will take priority over the regular schedule and the holiday schedule will take priority over the vacation schedule. Even though holidays are a special time, parents should guard against making plans that aren’t in their children’s best interest. For example, toddlers and pre-schoolers may have difficulty separating from their primary caregiver for more than a few days. Teenagers often want to make plans with their school friends or attend holiday parties with their friends. Parents also should consider the family’s traditions from past holidays, as consistency is important to children of a divorced family. These considerations should be factored in when planning the holiday schedule. If you remain flexible and positive in the way you include holidays in your regular custody schedule, you will keep the experiences enjoyable for children and parents alike.
Shared Holidays: Parents often rotate holidays between the parents, with major holidays being alternated year to year, or shared between them. For example, it is common for Christmas to be divided between the parents with one parent having Christmas Eve to Christmas Day and the other parent having Christmas day to December 26th, and reversing the schedule each year. Rotation of other holidays works well unless you have an even number of holidays, in which case the parents would have the same holidays each year. In those cases, you can divide the holidays into two groups, with the parents alternating between the groups in odd and even years.
Keep communications open and be flexible:
• Always communicate your plans with all members of the family,
• Set reasonable starting and ending times for each holiday, keeping
• If your plans need to change for any reason, be sure to let the
If the other parent needs to make an adjustment to their schedule, consider whether it will negatively impact the children by agreeing. Remember that you may need flexibility from the other parent at some time and your willingness to be agreeable will probably go a long way in getting the cooperation you may need.
If you would care to discuss the above in detail, please call me at 610-323-2800 or email email@example.com. Also, please watch OWM's October 2013 Legal Talk program where Attorney Victoria Hollister and Attorney Jamie Ottaviano discuss Child Custody - Sharing Holidays on our website here.
David A. Megay, Esq. speaking at SCORE Business Planning Seminars on 11/4/13 (contact SCORE at 610-327-2673).
Kathleen M. Martin, Esq., speaking at Owen J. Roberts High School, Pottstown, PA on 10/16/13 entitled "Elder Law Issues" and at Owen J. Roberts High School, Pottstown, PA on 10/23/13 entitled "Beyond the Simple Will" (contact Chester County Night School at 610-692-1964 or online at www.chestercountynightschool.org).
Watch Legal Talk, brought to you by OWM, on PCTV, Tuesdays at 8:30 on Channel 28, and Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. on Channel 98, or on our website at www.owmlaw.com/legal_talk/legal_talk.php.
Read Legal Ease every first and third Sunday in the Pottstown Mercury.