The holidays are meant to be a time of joy, peace, and happiness, but you might be going through your first (or possibly eighteenth) holiday season where your children are shared between their parents. If this is your first holiday season where traditions are changing, you might be left with a bit of sadness, confusion, and frustration but, also, excitement as you welcome the new traditions.
This is also the time of year that the court system tends to get busier, and it becomes even more difficult to resolve parenting issues if parties are not willing to compromise. As one Judge always says, the holidays occur at the same time each year so there should never be an emergency regarding who gets the children for the holidays. Since the holidays are upon us, if you have not started, it is time to begin communicating with your co-parent about the holiday schedule and see if you can resolve any issues now. If you are unable to reach an agreement, you may need to file a motion with the Court as soon as possible so you can resolve the outstanding issues.
Typically, the parties’ Allocation Judgment, a legal agreement which divides parenting time (previously known as visitation) and allocates decision making (previously known as legal custody), dictates the holiday parenting schedule. However, if parties do not have an Allocation Judgment, then the holidays can become a mad dash for who gets to celebrate with the children if you are unable to come to an agreement regarding holiday parenting time.
There are numerous factors you should consider when attempting to resolve the issue of holiday parenting time, such as, your current co-parenting relationship with the other party, family traditions that may need to be modified, what your future holiday schedule may look like, and what impact this may have on your children. Even though the holidays will be different than previous years, how can you bring joy and happiness to your children this holiday season? You can attempt to compromise and determine a schedule that works and allows your children to see their parents and celebrate the holidays. But there are situations and relationships where one cannot compromise, and then, you may be forced to bring this issue to the Court’s attention. If a conversation with your co-parent does not result in any genuine movement, then you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible to resolve the schedule.
If you choose or are forced to resolve these issues with the Court’s assistance, the Court will look at various factors as outlined in the Section 602.7 of Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act as well as examining each parent’s holiday plans, travel, extended family attendance, if there a holiday that one parent celebrates but the other does not, and who had which holiday parenting time last year. After looking at all the facts, the Court will make its own determination as to what is best for your children rather than you and your co-parent deciding amongst yourselves.
Even though you may need to rely on the Court throughout the course of your matter, the holidays are one time of year that, if you plan ahead, maybe, just maybe, it could turn into a wonderful time of year. If you need assistance or would like to discuss your options, then you should reach out to our firm to discuss your options.