The holidays bring snow, presents and often parenting disagreements. In a year when travel comes with more stress than usual, notifying your child’s parent about your holiday travel plans can be fraught with issues, whether you’re divorced, in the process of getting divorced or were never married.
With COVID-19 cases surging, parents may not agree with plans that were never objected to in years past, such as the annual trip to the lake house in Wisconsin or spending the holiday break in Florida.
The best idea is for both parents to plan ahead about what to do for the holidays, notify the other parent as early as possible regarding the plans and make clear all the precautions that they will take and deem important to keep everyone healthy and safe.
Judges always favor parents attempting to resolve their issues via mediation. In fact, almost all Allocation Judgments, also known as parenting agreements, require that the parties first attempt to resolve issues through mediation before filing any motions with the Court.
If an Allocation Judgment has not yet been entered, you may file a motion, however a judge may send the parties to mediation prior to holding a hearing. Having an experienced attorney to help navigate this process quickly so plans can be finalized is important, as is finding a mediator who is experienced in emergency mediation regarding holiday parenting time and can get the issues resolved.
In a pandemic, situations are more complicated. What if the children will be staying with the aunt who is an ER nurse or an uncle who has his own children returning home from college? Does one parent feel more comfortable about allowing the children to travel if the other parent will be driving with the children instead of flying? What if driving means that there will be an overnight stay at a hotel? An experienced mediator or attorney can help find creative solutions to these issues.
Judges Dislike Emergency Motions Regarding the Holidays
Mediation is the best option for holiday parenting time issues, as judges do not look fondly on parents who bring these issues to the courts.
Judges regularly admonish lawyers and their clients because the holidays come at the same time every year. Parents have plenty of advance notice to sort out differences in opinion over plans well before the time comes.
Holiday travel with children looks very different when you are divorced or are no longer living with the other parent, especially this year. It is important to plan ahead – and to choose the right team for mediation or for escalating issues to the court if needed.
Suzanne Glade is an experienced family law mediator and attorney with Fischel Kahn who assists clients in navigating complex financial and custody matters in virtual settings. She has made a name for herself as the attorneys’ choice for mediating difficult financial and child-related issues, parent coordination and as a child representative and has decades of experience helping parents navigate holiday time in a productive, effective manner.