Most Custody Agreements provide for an odd/even year designation with regard to holidays and special events. This helps the parents and the court, if necessary, keep track of who has custody for a particular holiday for a given year and provides the parents with the ability to make plans in advance. The Custody Agreement should always provide that the holiday schedule take priority over the regular weekday and vacation schedule.
If times for holidays are designated, consider that times may vary depending on the holiday. For example, an overnight on July 4th may be a good idea so that the parent having custody can take the child to fireworks. If a school holiday falls on a Monday, custody could be retained by the parent having the weekend immediately preceding that holiday.
In addition to holidays, consider school breaks over Christmas and Easter. Parents in certain school districts who had vacation plans over this past spring break learned that their children had only a few days off due to snow days, which resulted in a vacation during school days. A parent who lives in another state may find a substantial savings on airfare if flights are booked the day before or the day after a holiday weekend. The Agreement should provide for parents to mutually agree that a vacation may interfere with school or with extra-curricular activities. The policy of a School District regarding excused vs. unexcused absence should also be considered. In the event that a vacation interferes with school, the Custody Agreement should include a provision that all assignments must be completed and arrangements made to make-up any scheduled quiz or exam.
Custody Agreements may include a provision that allows each parent to have custody of the children for family weddings, funerals and other events, with reasonable notice to the other parent.
Each parent should be afforded vacation time. The vacation schedule should take priority over the regular weekday schedule, but not the holiday schedule. This prevents a parent from attempting to hijack the other parent’s holiday by taking a vacation during that holiday period. There should be a notice provision for the parents to inform the other of the intended vacation. It could be a set amount of days in advance of the planned vacation or it could be by a certain date each year. The Custody Agreement may include a provision to resolve a dispute when both parents have selected the same vacation period. For example, in even years, Mother shall prevail; in odd years, Father shall prevail. In the alternative, the Agreement could provide that the first parent to notify the other prevails.
Another consideration is a requirement to provide a vacation itinerary. Unless it involves air travel, it should not have be that specific. It should, however, provide that the travelling parent make the children available for telephone, text message, email and/or skype contact during the vacation period.
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