Columbus family lawyer, Courtney Hanna, discusses the challenges of managing your child custody schedule over the holidays.
Audrey Hasson: Holidays are meant to be spent with those you love. But what if your family dynamic is a little different than the typical setting attorney Courtney Hannah with Joseph and Joseph law is back to discuss sharing the schedule over the holidays. Courtney, thank you for joining us.
Courtney Hanna: Thanks for having me.
Hasson: So I know this is always a tough thing for their spouse. How do you establish parenting time for holidays for the kids when you haven’t yet filed for divorce or when your divorce is still pending?
Hanna: When your divorce is pending, we typically have what we call temporary orders. So we put into an order what is supposed to happen during the pendency of your divorce until we can get a final order. We typically have temporary parenting time set, so that parties know what their day-to-day schedule is supposed to be like, and then when the holidays come around, what that schedule is supposed to be like. If we have a temporary order pending, we usually have something in there for what’s supposed to happen during Christmas break. You know, the kids are out of school for a couple of weeks. Who’s going to have which, what time.
If you don’t yet have a case pending, that’s where it becomes a little bit dicey because you could be already separated with your spouse. You could be living in the same home. It really just depends, to a point. It typically takes a court about a couple months to get a temporary order together. So if you’re coming up on a holiday – you’re looking to celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, et cetera – it’s important to get in touch with somebody that can work well either with your spouse or with their counsel to see if you can come up with a schedule that the two of you can agree upon to make the holidays as smooth a transition for your kids as possible.
Hasson: And how do you make that determination for holiday parenting time for the children?
Hanna: We typically look at each individual family as different. So no family can just be labeled as to this is what you should do cause this is what everybody else is doing. So we look at maybe in one family, it’s really important to celebrate Christmas Eve together and maybe in another family, it’s really important to be together on Christmas morning. Maybe they do something over a weekend after Christmas because not all their family can get together on the same day. Maybe it’s really important for everybody to gather on the first night of Hanukkah or Kwanzaa. So you have to look at every person’s situation and determine what does one side of the family normally do. What does other side of the family normally do? Because during your relationship, you’ve had to figure it out as you go along to deal with two sides of a family anyway.
So we kind of look to do the same thing and figure out what’s important for one side of family, what’s important for the other. And if there’s really no happy medium, then we just say one year you’re getting this in the next year you’re getting this to make it equal.
Hasson: Sure and what happens for important holidays in your family that are not covered by local rule?
Hanna: There are a lot of families that are not covered by the local rule. The local rule typically covers the federal holidays that we would see on our calendar that the kids are off of school for. But there’s a lot of other holidays that you need to really know your client to know what’s important to them. There is Ramadan, there’s Eid, there’s Passover, there’s Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah, Hanukkah, as I’ve mentioned. There are a number of things that are not typically in the local rule.
There’s also maybe a family reunion that you get together for every year that’s on the third weekend and every June or something like that. You know, it’s really important to know your client, to know what’s important for them so you can reflect those in their actual shared parenting plan or custody agreement so that their family is properly represented.
Hasson: And what about travel days or if they get struck, stuck, stranded in a city with the weather or something, what happens then? Do you feel those phone calls?
Hanna: Well, of course.
Hasson: Take us through that.
Hanna: Yes, of course. Especially during this time of year, there may be issues with weather, flight delays, things of that nature. So typically in our agreements we try to have some flexibility for issues such as that, that if one party finds out they’re going to be delayed to immediately contact the other party, let them know what’s going on and try to rework it the best they can.
If they can’t do that on their own, we certainly get involved and start making calls and helping to resolve that issue, and we usually have in our language about being late to things and what happens when somebody is late. We really try to put as many things in there as we can so that we take our experiences to what we’ve seen and added into our documentation so that nobody is wondering what’s supposed to happen when they can’t get a hold of anybody at 11 o’clock at night because they’re delayed on a flight.
Hasson: Sure and the most important thing to remember is to keep in mind what’s best for the children involved.
Hanna: Definitely. This is a special time of year for children and we want to make things as smooth as possible for them.
Hasson: Yes, so Courtney and her team at Joseph and Joseph law tried to make all of this a bit bit easier for you. You can contact email@example.com or give them a call. The information’s on your screen tanks so much, Courtney.
Hanna: Thank you for having me.