With the holiday season upon us once again, the issue of time sharing is extremely important to those families currently going through a divorce or experiencing a separation. Usually the parties’ marital settlement agreement or parenting plan will specifically address the holiday time-sharing schedule in any given year while a child remains a minor. If a family is currently going through the dissolution process, however, usually neither a marital settlement agreement nor parenting plan have been agreed to by the parties, leaving the parties in “limbo” as to where the child(ren) are going to celebrate the holidays.
The Florida Supreme Court approved a form Parenting Plan (Form 12.995(a)), Section VII(2) and (3) of which provide a general framework for holiday and winter break timesharing, respectively. This is a great place for parties to start thinking about the major holidays and how time sharing should function for their family. Every situation differs and depends on many factors, including family traditions (does one side of the family celebrate on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day, do the parties always celebrate with extended family out of town, etc.), the age of the child(ren), and whether it may be feasible and in the child(ren)’s best interests to share the holiday between the two parents. We often see arrangements whereby the parties agree that the parent who celebrates Thanksgiving with the child(ren) will not celebrate with the children on Christmas Day for example, or where one parent will have lunch on the given holiday with the child(ren) and the other parent can have dinner with the child(ren).
In all situations, we highly recommend that the parties consider all the relevant factors and agree to a holiday time-sharing schedule significantly in advance of the holiday to avoid unnecessary, last-minute stress. We also recommend that the parties make every effort to abide by the previously-agreed upon holiday time-sharing schedule to avoid chaos on the day of. We encourage our clients to try and foster compromise because what goes around, comes around. Lastly, we encourage clients to keep upbeat and positive for the sake of their child(ren), even if they didn’t get the time-sharing schedule they would have wanted.
We hope you and your families have a wonderful holiday season and prosperous new year!
This article was co-written by Allison Ramirez.© Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed, PA, 2014. All rights reserved.