Parenting Through Divorce: Holiday Parenting Time in Illinois
The holiday season can be a difficult time for those who are recently divorced as well as for those who are going through a divorce. For those with children, many times extended families end up feeling the effects of the divorce. Decisions need to be made as to which party will have the children on each holiday. A difficult balancing act usually takes place, which attempts to ensure family traditions continue with the children despite the divorce, while at the same time maintaining a level of fairness between the parents and their extended families.
For any recently divorced parents, the terms of their Parenting Plan and Allocation Judgment will determine who has the right to exercise parenting time with the children on each holiday. It’s important to remember under most Parenting Plans, the schedule of assigned parenting time only takes place in the event the parents cannot agree who should have parenting time on a specific date. This means the parents are free to work with each other, even after the divorce is finalized, to ensure the children’s best interests are put first. Sometimes this means a Father giving up a Christmas Eve night with the children if the Mother’s side of the family is in town. In this situation, the parents are free to work with each other to adjust their court-ordered holiday schedules. If the Mother was assigned Thanksgiving parenting time, she can agree to the children spending Thanksgiving with Father. The assigned parenting times need to only take effect if the parents cannot agree.
For those parents currently going through a divorce, holidays can be especially difficult. If a Parenting Plan and Allocation Judgment has not yet been entered, each holiday will have to be addressed on an individual basis as they arise. This can cause difficulties in planning out-of-state travel and logistics. When the parents are unable to agree on a holiday parenting schedule, the majority of courts in Illinois apply an alternating annual schedule on an odd/even numbered year basis. This means that for every holiday Mother is assigned in 2018, Father will be assigned the identical holidays in 2019, and vice versa. Furthermore, the Illinois courts tend to divide the more popular holidays such that each parent will have some parenting time with the children on or near the holiday. For example, If Mother is assigned Christmas Eve in 2018, Father will be assigned Christmas Day. If Father is assigned New Years Eve, Mother will be assigned New Years Day.
While the Court’s assigning of alternating holidays ensures fairness, it does not always reflect or encourage the continuation of family traditions. For this reason, parents are encouraged to work with each other to reach an agreement on a holiday schedule that best reflects what each parent believes to be the best interests of their children, rather than a third party deciding it for them.
There are a number of additional factors to consider when considering a holiday parenting schedule. Contact a divorce lawyer or family attorney at our Lombard or Plainfield offices for a free consultation. Our attorneys are able to meet in person or discuss your options via phone if it is more convenient for you.
For more information about Illinois Parenting Plans and Allocation Judgments, see section 5/602.7 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act.