Can I Get Holiday Parenting Time?

When dealing with the allocation of parenting time, parties going through a child custody or divorce case would be best served by obtaining specific and well written orders. Parenting time orders are generally going to have various aspects to them. Specifically, the parties will need to determine whether one of them has the majority of the time with the children, thereby becoming the primary residential custodian. Conversely, the orders may be such that the parties share equal (50/50) parenting time. Under either scenario, a specific schedule for the regular, recurring allocation of visitation will also need to be set forth. Aside from determining the regular schedule, whether by agreement or through a contested court hearing, parents will also likely find themselves needing to determine an allocation of holiday time.

In the vast majority of child custody cases, obtaining a specific holiday schedule is important. This type of schedule will generally include not only holidays, but also school breaks and vacations. In some instances, people believe they have the ability to work out holidays on their own, without the need for a set schedule or invoking the power of the court to enforce that schedule. However, this can leave the parties in a precarious position when the parties don’t agree upon a specific holiday. Likewise, if the parties are at odds over other issues the likelihood of working holidays out decreases. As such, it is advisable to get a schedule in place. It is also absolutely normal for courts to enter orders setting forth holiday time despite objections from the other party. Without a set schedule or agreement, parties are left taking there chances at letting holidays fall where they fall. Conceivably, based on the rotation of regular time, one parent could go months, or more, without ever being able to exercise a holiday with their child.

Though holiday parenting time schedules can vary depending on the specific family, the vast majority contain provisions for major holidays, including Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, and the Fourth of July. Some also contain provisions for the one-day Monday holidays such as Memorial Day, Labor Day, Martin Luther King Day, and President’s Day. Almost all holiday schedules will set forth provisions for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. These two holidays are perceived by most courts as more important than the others. The holidays set forth above are by no means the entire list. As Colorado child custody cases can involve people of all religions, nationalities, and beliefs, other holidays of importance may be included.

Aside from the actual holidays, it’s normal for parenting time schedules to also include school breaks, such as Spring Break, Fall Break, and Winter Break. Schedules will also generally include vacation time, which will most likely be taken during the summer.

When seeking orders regarding holiday parenting time, keep in mind that the norm is for holidays to be rotated on an every other year basis. One parent might have Thanksgiving in all even years and the other in odd years. This type of rotation also holds true for breaks, with Winter Break usually being divided equally and the halves alternated in the same even-odd fashion. Also when formulating orders, keep in mind the importance of balancing out the holidays throughout any given year so that neither parent is left with little or no holidays in any given year.

As parenting time orders are modifiable under C.R.S. 14-10-129, holiday schedules can certainly change over the years as circumstances also change. Likewise, people with initial orders void of a holiday schedule always have the option to file a motion to modify parenting time to include a holiday schedule. There is no set, specific rule or formula for what holidays should be. Regardless, having a holiday schedule is normal and almost expected by most courts. If you have concerns with your holiday parenting time schedule, it's advisable to contact a Denver family law attorney to get a better understanding of your rights and legal options.

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