Legal Blog

Seasonal Child Custody and Access Plans

child-parentThere are many considerations when working on a seasonal child custody and access schedule. Let’s take a look at some of the different ways you may arrange the schedule around key holidays and vacation times. Whatever you decide, specificity is important and your written agreement should include as much detail as possible so that future references to the document provide clear and precise guidance.

Winter Break

More often than not, winter break is split, not alternated. You may choose to handle winter break in the same way that you have your in-school custody schedule, while separately addressing arrangements for important winter holidays like Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Hanukkah and New Year’s. Special considerations include:

  • Families traveling during this time of year may prefer an alternating schedule.
  • If Christmas is important to both parents, some treatment of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will occur, with the rest of the break being divided.

Spring Break

Children are often out of school for a week during spring break, which usually includes Easter. A predetermined schedule can help you plan in advance for vacations alone or time away with your children when the schedule permits. Special considerations include:

  • If Easter is important to both parents, then you may choose to alternate the holiday with your ex-spouse.
  • Since Easter usually coincides with spring break, it may work best to have the parent with the Easter schedule to also have custody for the full spring break, or at least that one-half (1/2) of the break.
  • If Easter is important to one parent and not the other, or one parent is likely to travel during the break and the other is not, then parents may choose not to alternate, but instead one parent may always have the holiday.

Summer Break

Summer is different from the regular school year; it has so many possibilities for treatment, and is dependent on the age of your children.The main schedule may continue, but with several weeks for vacation isolated for each parent. You may totally re-vamp the schedule to include longer blocks of access or alternating weeks. Here are some important considerations:

  • Work together to establish a well-defined summer plan and arrangements that allow you both to manage your work schedules and spend quality time with your children.
  • Consider possible vacations and camps in advance and share the agreed upon schedule with your children so that everyone can prepare for the extended time away.
  • There are many options for summer schedules; parents may split the summer, alternate weeks, lengthen the schedule, and add midweek overnights that don’t exist in the “regular” schedule.

The final plan will ultimately depend on the specific needs, interests and ages of your children.

Other Holidays

As you begin to prepare your child custody and access plan, you will also want to remember any other holidays that are important to each of you so that you can plan a schedule around those dates as well. Other commonly addressed holidays are: Thanksgiving, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Independence Day. Remember that in all cases, specificity is critical to developing a solid child custody and access plan. When do the blocks of time start and end? Who does the pickup and drop off? These are some helpful starting points to get you on the right track, but it is always best to consult with an experienced family law attorney for guidance in your particular case. For questions about divorce in Maryland, please contact Linda Sorg Ostovitz, at (301) 575-0381 or email lostovitz@offitkurman.com to schedule a consultation or mediation.

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