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Does your visitation agreement account for school holidays?

Most families get into some kind of natural weekly rhythm, where everyone knows what’s going on generally every day of the week. However, no matter how solid a family’s weekly schedule might be, school holidays can cause significant scheduling problems, especially if both parents are earning an income in the workplace outside of the home.

If school holidays cause issues for families who are together, it makes sense that they would cause even more problems for divorced parents. The problem is that many custody and visitation agreements don’t account for holidays, so parents are left fighting over who takes time off work to care for the kids during holidays.

Making Your Visitation Agreement Work

When you make a visitation agreement, it is important to cover as many of the essential details as possible, to minimize conflict in the divorce and make sure all the essential details are covered.

In particular, it is important to make sure there is nothing left to debate once divorce proceeding begin. The challenge in visitation agreements is to make sure the unique circumstances are covered, such as the procedures for handling school holidays.

Common ways to handle this aspect of a visitation agreement include:

  • Each parent takes turns handling alternating holidays
  • Take turns handling all the holidays alternating months
  • Plan out every holiday during a calendar year specifically
  • Have one parent handle every school holiday

Establishing Your Visitation Agreement

Although many couples choose to handle their visitation agreements in the courtroom during the traditional divorce process, this is rarely the best way. Divorce court is a form of litigation, which is primarily an adversarial form of dispute resolution. Each party is arguing against the other to win each point of contention. This approach is rarely helpful for coming up with an agreement that works for both parents.

Another that works remarkably well for establishing quality visitation agreements is the mediation process. In order to streamline the divorce process, the court requires that couples make a good faith effort to resolve their disputes in mediation before going through the courtroom process. However, many divorcing spouses do not avail themselves to this process fully.

Mediation puts the decision-making authority in the hands of the divorcing spouses (with the requirement of court approval). This allows divorcing spouses to come up with the specifics of their visitation agreements themselves, so they can craft something that really works for their lives rather than letting a judge make these decisions.

The most important thing to do is to work with an experienced lawyer to make sure your agreement will work for the whole family. 

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