Ah, the holidays. A time for family, food and stress. What can be more stressful than finalizing travel plans or beating the holiday shopping crowd to find the perfect gifts for your loved ones?
Parent-time disputes can be the most stressful part of the holiday season for co-parents who don’t exactly see eye-to-eye on parenting issues. Non-custodial parents in particular often find themselves having difficulty asserting their right to parent-time during the holidays. However, the real victims of co-parent visitation squabbles are children. It is the right of the child to have frequent, meaningful parent-time with both parents, and to that end, the courts will not enter a Decree of Divorce (where children are involved) or Custody without a parenting plan that includes a parent-time schedule. Additionally, the parent-time statutes (U.C.A 30-3-35, 30-3-35.5, and 30-3-37) have specific holiday parent-time schedules included should the parents be unable to agree on a specific holiday parent-time schedule.
The parent-time statutes exist as the minimum parent-time the parties are entitled to, absent a court order; therefore, the parents are entitled to agree to develop a schedule that fits their needs. If the parents plan to put a holiday schedule in place that differs from the schedule contained in those statutes, they will want to make sure both parties are very clear as to what the schedule is. Additionally, the parties should make any amendments to the holiday schedule in writing, in case a conflict should arise.
Unfortunately, disputes over holiday parent-time are common. If you need assistance enforcing your holiday parent-time, contact an experienced attorney.