Custody Evaluators: Please STOP Including These Holiday Provisions in Your Recommendations! (Part 2 of 2)

by Annette Burns on August 17, 2015

This is a continuation of the previous post which asks that custody evaluators change some Parenting Plan provisions that cause problems for the parents.  Many of the problems stem from holiday definitions that require the parents to have extra exchanges of the children (exchanges that can’t be done through school).   When parents have trouble at exchanges (yelling at each other, trying to talk about money issues, running late), it makes no sense to add extra exchanges.  Especially on holidays!

Thanksgiving.  Why, oh why, would anyone recommend that the Thanksgiving holiday 4-day weekend end on Sunday evening at 6pm? But I’ve seen this provision many times.  The Sunday night exchange is sometimes recommended even when the parents have a 5/2/2/5 plan that is designed to make as many exchanges as possible happen through school, so it makes little sense.    Exchanging the children with the “return to school on Monday” option has eliminated the Sunday evening exchange stress for most kids (and parents).   Please, please – no Sunday night exchanges.   By leaving the exchange for Monday morning, the Plan clearly designates who is responsible for feeding the children that evening, and making sure that they’re bathed and have their homework, reading, and school projects done.

New Years’ Eve.  Please don’t make this a separate holiday.   Please leave it as part of the second half of Winter Break.   Making New Years’ Eve (or Day) a separate holiday just beaks up an otherwise straightforward second half of Winter Break, and it precludes the second half parent from traveling with the children over the Break.    Just leave NY Eve to the parent who has the second half of Winter Break, as this results in the parents alternating every other year.

Parents’ Birthdays.  Again, please leave these birthdays out as special holidays, and leave them as part of the regular parenting time schedule.   Adding these birthdays as “special days” creates another exchange or two, and in my opinion, creates a fallacy that every parent must have his/ her children with him on his own birthday in order to be complete.  Especially in cases of equal parenting time, the parent is going to see the child pretty close to his own birthday, so please don’t include this.  When a parent’s birthday falls somewhere during or close to Thanksgiving, spring break, fall break, Christmas, or during the summer vacation scheduling, this provision truly creates havoc with the rest of the schedule.

Children’s birthdays.   I hesitate to mention this, because it sounds like I’m saying that one parent doesn’t have a right to see his child on the child’s birthday, but I’m not trying to be mean.   I’m thinking of the child.   The consequences of having exchanges on a child’s birthday should be seriously considered, and the child’s interests should be put before the parents.  How nice would it be if the child can be told “Your birthday falls on Mom’s time this year, so we’re going to celebrate at my house the weekend before your birthday” and then let the child know that he doesn’t have to go through an exchange (or two) on his birthday.   Once again, this suggested change is easier (in my mind) if the parents have equal parenting time.  If one parent has significantly less time than the other and actually would not see the child within a week of the child’s birthday, then setting aside specific time on the child’s birthday itself might be warranted.  But remember, you’re doing this for the parent and not for the child.

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