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Visitation Schedules that Benefit Everyone


Custody and visitation issues can be a thorny topic for couples facing divorce, and the emotions get infinitely more intense when the subject of holiday visitation comes up. While it may seem an overwhelming task, it is, indeed, possible with a little planning.

Holidays and Other Breaks

While families automatically think of the big holidays like Christmas or Hanukkah, Easter, Ramadan, Independence Day, Halloween and Thanksgiving, school-aged children have a number of additional days off of school that should be tossed into the mix when discussing holiday scheduling. For instance, most schools are closed for Memorial Day, President’s Day, and Spring Break. And there are some other important milestones to recognize, like Mother’s and Father’s Day, each parents’ and stepparents’ birthdays, and the children’s birthdays. These special days should all be explicitly provided for when drafting a holiday schedule.

How to Create an Equitable Schedule

Schedules can be arranged in a number of ways, as long as Maryland laws are adhered to. Neither parent is given any particular advantage in custodial matters, so designing a schedule that accommodates the needs of both parents and the children is up to the parties involved. Some options for holiday visitation include:

  • Splitting up important days so that each parent is allowed a certain number of hours with the children. This works well for parents who live fairly close to one another and are able to agree on a schedule that has kids having breakfast in one home and having dinner in the other.
  • Each parent having a specific holiday may be a practical approach for some families. Dad may get the kids for the entirety of the Thanksgiving break, while Mom has them for the majority of the Christmas vacation.
  • Perhaps alternating holidays by year is the easiest solution for other families. On even years, Dad has the kids for Halloween, Christmas, and Independence Day on even years, and the other holidays on odd years. Mom’s schedule reflects the opposite.

Naturally, while any schedule may look good on paper, divorcing couples have to be prepared to make adjustments and changes over time. Perhaps a special vacation, school program, or extra-curricular event will interfere with plans. Parents who are reasonable and measured as these surprises come up will find things turn out better in the end.

If Regular and Holiday Schedules are at Odds

In some situations, a holiday scheduled for Mom may fall on Dad’s regular weekend. It should be understood that the holiday schedule always trumps the regular schedule, so Mom gets the kids. And unless changes are specifically called out in the agreement, Mom gets to keep her usual weekends, too. She’s not required to trade out one of her regular weekends just because she got a holiday bonus.

Contact an experienced family law attorney

At the Law Office of Hasson D. Barnes, LLC we understand how emotional custody and visitation issues can be. As your legal team, we strive to ensure the best possible outcomes for you and your family. Contact us in Baltimore for a confidential consultation today.

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