The child custody and visitation schedule that results from a Dissolution of Marriage is often described as the “Regular Visitation Schedule.” If parents choose to, they also have the option of entering a separate “Holiday Visitation Schedule”. If parents choose to have both of these schedules, it is important to know that the Holiday Visitation Schedule takes precedence over the Regular Visitation Schedule. This makes sense for obvious reasons: holidays and birthdays only come around one time per year.
A Court-Ordered Holiday schedule assures both parents of shared time with their children during holidays and birthdays. This is most often split on an odd and even annual basis. This allows the parents to review the entire year for Holidays and birthdays and divide all such occasions between them in a manner that assures each parent an equal amount of time shared with their children throughout the year. This also avoids one parent receiving the majority of such occurrences in a single year. It is also extremely helpful and useful in that each parent can plan ahead, knowing what holidays, and the time span during each holiday, that he/she will be sharing time with the children. Three-day weekends and annual vacation periods can also be included in the holiday schedule. Parents can encompass as many or as few holidays within a Holiday schedule as they wish. They may also include their own birthdays on the holiday schedule to ensure that they see the children on those days.
Regular visitation schedules include such provisions as a shared week-to-week schedule, an alternate weekend schedule by one parent or any custody and visitation arrangement that they are able to agree to. A regular visitation schedule can be modified either by agreement between the parties or by a modified Court Order. It can also be modified if a change of circumstances arises for one of the parents.
Visitation periods are extremely important between parents and children. Ensuring that each parent maintains frequent and ongoing contact with his/her child(ren) is one of the most important aspects in making sure that children of a divorce continue to feel safe, secure and loved by both parents. If a scheduled visitation or Holiday visitation must be cancelled, both parents should be willing to allow the missed visitation period to be made up. I personally believe that this gesture goes a long way in making children feel valued by their parents.
It is my hope that parents keep open minds when the normal visitation schedule is interrupted because a special trip or event is at hand that one parent wants to include the children in. As difficult as it may be, try to put the opportunity presented to the child first. Whether it is a vacation such as cruise; a camping trip; or out-of-state trip to visit family or friends; or a local event such as a wedding; a relative’s birthday; or a sleep-over one of your children may have been invited to attend, I am hopeful arrangements can be made to allow your children to experience these events. Everything we do becomes a memory. An example of good co-parenting includes allowing your children to make these memories.