Don’t worry, a Utah divorce attorney is here with answers
The holiday season can still be the most wonderful time of the year, even if you have to tip-toe around court-ordered parent time. At CoilLaw, our attorneys get countless calls with questions about holiday parent time—and it’s no wonder. Court orders can be confusing, and the parent-time holiday schedule can be very confusing, especially since the holidays rotate from year to year. If you’ve got questions about your parent-time holiday schedule, a Utah divorce attorney can be an essential part of getting you the clarity you’re seeking.
Holiday Parent Time Is a Law
A lot of parents don’t realize that the parent-time holiday schedule is actually written into Utah Law. The Utah laws around holiday parent time are a pretty good rule of thumb, but your decree may say something different. Even though parent time is court ordered, you and your ex may decide to make concessions for each other during the holiday season. For example, you may have decided to allow your ex to have the children for Thanksgiving—even though it was your year to have the kids for Thanksgiving—in exchange for being able to take the children for Christmas. You may even decide to exchange some time to accommodate for the other parent’s family functions. However, if you and your ex cannot come to an agreement, you must abide by what your parent-time orders say.
You Need a Custody Order or Agreement
A lot of people believe that simply being a biological parent of a child automatically grants them the right to see their children. However, this is not entirely true. If it isn’t in a court order, there is nothing to enforce. This means that, if you are already separated, you cannot show up at your ex’s residence and demand to see the children if there’s no custody order granting you the right to see the children at that specific time. The best resolution is to speak with the other parent to see if you can agree on parent-time arrangements. If you are able to come to an agreement you should be sure to put it in writing, such as an email. If you and your ex are still living together in a house or apartment that both your names are on, your ex cannot kick you out of your own home and refuse to allow you to see the children. If your ex is refusing to allow you to see your children, you need to obtain a court order. The attorneys at CoilLaw can help you understand the process and what you need to do in order to obtain an order for parent-time. Waiting too long on custody matters could negatively impact your ability to maximize your time with your children. This is especially the case if you allow the other parent to take the children and you go extended periods of time without seeing them. Most courts are closed during the holidays, so make sure you know the plan well ahead of time so if there are issues to address, you have time to meet with an attorney or mediator, or get a court date scheduled.
Be Patient and Follow the Golden Rule
Co-parenting situations can make people do things they wouldn’t normally even dream of doing. When it comes to parent time, some couples can be rather quick to react when their ex isn’t holding up their end of the bargain of following the orders exactly. Either you or the other parent may get held up, or something may occur making it difficult or impossible to follow the order directly. During the holidays, chaos often ensues: whether it’s traffic, bad weather, or just plain and simple running behind. The best thing to do is to work on keeping the lines of communication open. Both parents should be making good-faith efforts to abide by any agreements or parent-time orders. If the other parent is a few minutes late, communicate, be patient, and then act. If the other parent is intentionally not following the order or refusing to allow you to exercise your parent-time, then it may be time to escalate the issues. Treat the other parent the same way you would want to be treated by them.
Don’t Ruin Christmas
Christmas is supposed to be a magical time of year for children around the world. Do not take the magic out of your child’s holiday. There are so many adult children of divorce who have turned into adults who hate Christmas because their parents were bitter and constantly trying to use the holidays to get back at each other. Don’t be the reason your child turns into an adult who doesn’t like Christmas. If you need more advice on co-parenting after divorce, check out No One Dies from Divorce, a book about surviving the divorce process and thriving after your marriage ends. You can also check out my recent podcast episode about holiday parent-time.