Visitation and the Holidays

Holidays and Visitation

The holiday season is upon us, and this is the time of year when families gather to spend quality time with each other. For divorced or separated couples with kids, the holidays can be especially hard on the children. They are used to spending time with Mom and Dad together, and now they have to go back and forth between the two depending on what the child custody and visitation schedule says.

In Alabama, most child custody arrangements call for the non-custodial parent to be allowed liberal visitation rights. The state recognizes the role of both parents in the lives of their children, so they are inclined to grant frequent visitation in the vast majority of cases. In some rare and extreme cases in which there is a history of abuse, the court may only grant limited supervised visitation.

Holidays and Visitation in Alabama

Visitation for holidays is an area that couples should try to work out on their own. Each family has their own traditions and their own ways of celebrating the holidays,and the holiday visitation schedule should reflect the uniqueness of each individual circumstance.

There are several ways parents may handle visitation during the holidays. Here are some common approaches:

Alternating Holiday Schedules Annually

One popular way parents may choose to divide holiday time with the kids is to rotate holidays in alternate years. One parent could have the children for a certain holiday in even-number years, while the other parent has them in odd-numbered years. In addition, you can rotate major holidays so that each parent has some holiday time each year with the children. For example, during even-numbered years, Parent A could have the children for Thanksgiving weekend while Parent B has them from Christmas Eve through Christmas morning. Other holidays throughout the year could be scheduled in the same manner, and the parents would swap holidays in odd-numbered years.

Assigning Fixed Holidays for Each Parent

Another way to fairly divide the visitation schedule around the holidays is to have the children spend the same holidays with each parent every year. So, in this example, Parent A would have the children for Thanksgiving weekend every year,Parent B would always have the kids for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and other holidays would be divided up accordingly between the parents. This arrangement might work well if the parents want a more simplified schedule and/or the parents have different holidays that they believe are most important.  

Splitting Holiday Time in Half

You may choose to split the holiday time between the parents, so the children spend part of the day (or series of days) with each. For example, one parent could have the children for the night before Thanksgiving and most of Thanksgiving Day, while the other parent takes the kids on Thanksgiving evening and keeps them the rest of the weekend. A similar arrangement could be done with Christmas Eve/Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day. The time-splitting approach works best when the parents live close to each other and can coordinate the schedule so there is not too much traveling involved.

Alabama Standard Visitation Schedules

If parents are unable to come to an agreement on their own regarding visitation,the courts usually have a standard visitation schedule that is followed. The standard schedule varies depending on the county you are in, and judges have discretion to account for various factors; such as the age of the children, the distance between the two parents, whether or not one parent lives out-of-state,and many others. A strict standard visitation schedule is usually only imposed if there is no agreement at all between the parties. More commonly, this schedule is used as a starting point for negotiations, and it is customized as needed based on what is important to the parents and children.

Contact an Experienced Alabama Family Law Attorney

Holidays and visitation schedules can be a source of dispute during a divorce or parentage case. When working out a schedule that fits your needs and the needs of your children, it is best to have a skilled advocate in your corner arguing forcefully for your rights and interests. At Alsobrook Jackson, Attorneys at Law, we extensive family law experience, and we work closely with clients to ensure that they receive the strong personalized representation they need and deserve. For a consultation with one of our attorneys, call us today at 334-737-3718. You may also send us a message through our web contact form or stop by our office in Opelika.