Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Families celebrate with a wide variety of traditions from watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade while munching on hors d’oeuvres to a grand feast among close friends and extended family.

The holiday season can bring anxiety over many entertaining snafus, such as leathery turkey that disintegrates on the dining room table or bits of kibble in the Jell-O mold. Divorce can up the ante. But, it doesn’t have to be an unpleasant experience for you or the children when a solid parenting time schedule is in place.

What is a parenting time schedule?

Livingston County encourages both parents to work together and the children to spend reasonable and liberal time with each parent, so long as there are no safety concerns or a Personal Protection Order in place. A parenting time schedule allows divorcing parents to consider the schedules of all involved, including the children, to determine which days or weekends the children will spend with which parent.

How are parenting time schedules determined?

Either the parents can negotiate terms for an agreement or the court can make the parenting time determination. Depending on your situation, it may be wise to negotiate and agree to a schedule that suits your family traditions and needs–no one knows your family better than you.

What about holidays?

If Livingston County Court decides the schedule, they will have the parents alternate holidays and will designate specific beginning and ending times, generally at 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. Often, whether the court decides or the parents agree, holidays are alternated by even and odd years. For example, one parent will have the children for Thanksgiving on even years while the other will enjoy Thanksgiving on odd years. The parents would also alternate between Christmas Eve Day and Christmas Day.

While Livingston County Court will grant Mother’s Day to the mother and Father’s Day to the father, it does not recognize birthdays or Halloween as holidays. If you would like to include them in the holiday schedule, it may be best to negotiate an agreement rather than let the Court decide.

What if my weekend falls on the other parent’s holiday?

Holiday parenting time supersedes the normal weekend schedule. Since Thanksgiving falls on a Thursday, this should never be an issue unless both parents agree to some other arrangement.

What if we just started the divorce process?

Both parents can agree to a temporary holiday schedule to address the upcoming season. You can discuss any future arrangements for a permanent schedule, including holidays, at a later date. Speak to an attorney who is experienced in family law to discuss details at greater length and determine which course of action is best for you.

Remember, if you keep the children out of the middle by refraining from making disparaging remarks about the other parent, your holidays will go more smoothly for your family–especially your children. Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.