In Texas, most divorce court orders have very detailed and explicit plans for how holiday time with the children is divided between the parents. The standard language has been developed over time and is based on common problems and the best solutions that had been developed over the years.
Some of the provisions are a little unwieldy -- not surprising since they came out of the legal system. Still, they provide a good standard for people to consider. Keep in mind that almost every possession schedule order says that the parties can follow any plan they come up with, as long as they agree. The formal order is the backup in case they are not in agreement.
What should you do if you anticipate a possible issue?
1. You need to start now. The holidays are approaching. In November, we have anywhere from 2 or 3 days off to 10 days off from school and sometimes work. The standard order allows each parent to have Thanksgiving every other other year. In December, in addition to various family gatherings, we have an extended time off from school that extends into January. Families have different traditions and preferences regarding the holidays and usually can make accommodations that work for both parents. Usually the December vacation time is split approximately in half.
2. Situations change. As time passes, circumstances change. There are new marriages, moves, new jobs, new kids and kids may age out -- moving out for college or work or relationships. These changes, or even new events, create a need to sometimes modify what has worked in the past. The first of November is a great time to look ahead and do some planning if you see the possible need to adjust the possession times for the holidays.
3. Time to consult. This is a good time to meet with your attorney if you anticipate you or your ex needing to make some changes in the holiday schedules. You can get an interpretation of the current order and plan how to approach your ex or how to respond if your ex approaches you. It is so much better to deal with these issues early in November than to wait until Thanksgiving week or the week the kids get out of school in December.
Holidays are emotional times. Everyone, especially including the kids, will benefit by the parents planning ahead and working together to make any necessary adjustments.