For many couples, parent-time can be one of the most challenging aspects of a divorce or separation. Generally, both parents will want to spend as much time as possible with their children. This is especially true for special occasions and holidays. Holiday parent-time can easily become a foundation for rampant disagreement and hard feelings, leading to difficult issues related to sharing a child after a divorce or separation. To reduce contention, it is wise to first understand the law and how holiday parent-time is addressed. Most Utah divorce decrees and custody orders are based on Utah Code Annotated § 30-3-35, which dictates holiday parent-time in years ending in odd and even numbers.
Odd years and even years for holiday parent-time
The code states that parents are entitled to holidays based on whether the year ends in an odd or even number. Unless the parties have an order stating otherwise, the noncustodial parent is typically entitled to the following holidays in years ending in an odd number: Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Spring Break, Independence Day, Labor Day, Fall Break, Veterans Day, during the first part of Christmas vacation (including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day), and the day before or the day after the child’s birthday Unless the parties have an order stating otherwise, the noncustodial parent is typically entitled to the following holidays in years ending in an even number: President’s Day, Memorial Day, Pioneer Day, Columbus Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, during the second part of Christmas vacation, and on the child’s birthday. Each year, the parents will alternate holidays, and the custodial parent will receive the odd year holidays during an even year and vice versa.
There are various time constraints and templates for these rules. For example, with a birthday, the noncustodial parent will have the child from 3 p.m. on the actual birthday and will keep the child until 9 p.m. There are similarly designated start and end times for each of the holidays. If Halloween falls on a school day, this also impacts when the parent gets time with their child. Additionally, Father’s Day and Mother’s Day will be spent with the respective parent, regardless of whether the year is odd or even.
For parent-time during holidays, having legal help can be important
When parents get divorced or separated, they may not realize the level of complexity that comes with addressing parent-time. In some situations, both parents cooperate and work together to follow the holiday parent-time schedule, and dispute can be kept to a minimum as they navigate the situation and serve the child’s best interests. Still, every situation is different, and hard feelings, safety concerns, and other problematic aspects of a case can arise. Having legal advice may be imperative, and a firm experienced in divorce and family law is able to help.