Family Law... Holiday Access Time

Michelle Rogers – August 2015

The holidays are a busy time for family gatherings, social events, and religious celebrations. For this reason, the sharing of all holidays should be discussed in advance by parents, and drafted into a separation agreement.

There is no one way to share holidays with children. Each family may have a different arrangement based on personal preferences, traditions, and availability. The holidays to consider are:

– children’s winter break from school, December religious holidays, and New Year’s Eve;
– children’s summer break from school (some parenting schedules change during the summer months with periods of block access to permit parents to vacation with the children);
– other religious and statutory holidays, such as Easter and Thanksgiving;
– children’s birthdays;
– parents’ birthdays;
– Mother’s and Father’s days
– Halloween; and
– statutory long weekends

If parents do not have an agreed holiday access schedule in place, disputes can arise about the sharing of this time. It is possible to file a motion with the court to have the specific issue of parenting time during a holiday determined. If you anticipate that this will be necessary, it is important to consult with your lawyer in advance. There is limited court availability for the determination of these issues, as courts are particularly busy as holidays near.  If you anticipate needing a hearing for the December holidays, you should consult your lawyer in October. Your lawyer will attempt to negotiate an agreement about the sharing of time, and file a motion if this is unsuccessful. If you anticipate needing a hearing for the summer holidays, you should speak with your lawyer in April.

Forward planning will go a long way to ensure access with your children during holiday periods is as smooth as possible.

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