Create A Consistent Holiday Parenting Time Schedule That Enriches Your Child’s Life
The joys of the holidays are often coupled with child custody and visitation issues for parents no longer live together. This year, Florida enacted legislation intended to simplify the difficulties of negotiating and following through on schedules.
Called the Standard Parenting Time Plan, the law provides guidelines designed to give children a sense of consistency. The idea of placing the child’s well being first is one that is highly regarded in the legal community because of the importance of shared parenting. With a high volume of holidays approaching, these are some of the things we hope loving parents will consider.
Florida Shared Parenting Guidelines
In terms of schedules, the 2018 guidelines put a strong focus on school breaks. But these time periods can coincide with Thanksgiving, Christmas, Fourth of July, Three Kings Day, Hanukkah, New Years and other secular and religious holidays. The guidelines impress upon parents the need for alternating holiday and school break parenting time to provide both balance and consistency. These include the following.
- Thanksgiving Break: Running from 6pm on Wednesday to 6pm on Saturday.
- Winter Break: This time is broken into two halves. The first running from the child’s release from school until December 26 at noon and the other parent enjoying the second half.
- Spring Break: Running from 6pm the day of the child’s release until 6pm the night before school resumes.
- Summer Break: Two weeks are provided to the non-custodial parent beginning on the first Sunday of summer break.
Regardless of whether your relationship ended amicably or abruptly, children benefit from a healthy relationship from two loving parents. Harmonious cooperation during breaks and coinciding holidays is vital to your child. While these guidelines provide a framework for parents, alternative parenting plans can be negotiated and approved by the courts if they serve the child’s best interests.
Planning A Holiday Schedule That Benefits Your Child
It goes without saying that Florida has a culturally diverse population. That diversity is among the country’s greatest assets and it also opens the door for parents with different backgrounds to build a robust parenting schedule.
For example, secular parents may place a greater emphasis on holidays such as Thanksgiving, Independence Day and birthdays than a religious one. If the other parent is more religious, this may be a bridge to creating a plan that embraces both parent’s worldview.
Even when both parents favor religious or secular holidays, the importance of specific ones can differ. The bottom line is that parents can best serve their child’s best interest by creating a holiday schedule that allows each to embrace and share what is important to them. It would not provide a life-enhancing experience for a child to be sitting around on electronics when one parent and his or her family members are immersed in their rich culture.
It’s also important to keep in mind that when a child spends time with a parent during the holidays, that time is often also spent other family members. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, step-children and other loved ones are important connections. Sometimes being a great parent means recognizing that both of you help round out your child’s experience in a positive fashion.
Holiday Consistency And Expectations For Children
Creating a holiday parenting time plan that reinforces values can make a world of difference for your child. But for that plan to be effective, it’s important that the child understands when and where they will be spending specific holidays.
Last minute changes or disruptions can create unnecessary anxiety for your child. The state laws regarding parenting time are structured because children do well with consistency. Consider things like posting an annual parenting time schedule the child can refer to anytime when they have questions. Work cooperatively with the other parent when real-life problems such as work or travel present drop-off or pick-up challenges. Minor changes may be inconvenient, but they may make a big difference for your child.
It’s important to keep in mind that holidays are often highly emotional times and even loving parents feel stress around them. Maintaining a solid holiday schedule can help avoid unnecessary stress and anxiety for your child.
Work With An Experienced Family Law Firm
If you are a parent facing divorce or need to create a viable holiday parenting schedule, it’s important to work with an experienced Florida family law firm that can negotiate a plan that supports your values and furthers your child’s interests. At Yardley Law, we negotiate child visitation schedules for good parents.