When people divorce, holidays become a real issue.
Holidays’ after divorce elicit questions, “Where will we go for Thanksgiving?” — primarily because there is no “we” anymore. It elicits questions like: “Whose holiday is it with the kids?”; “Do we have enough time to go out of town?”; and “Should I trade this holiday for that holiday because we’ll be spending time with family during that holiday?”
Utah has tried to make sharing holidays after divorce easier by laying out a holiday schedule. You can find it at Utah Code, Section 30-3-35.
Birthdays and Holidays
But, just because there is a schedule doesn’t mean there won’t be some difficulties with holidays.
For example, what if, by chance, your child’s birthday lands on a holiday? What happens then?
Well, you have to start with what the law says about kids’ birthdays: “birthdays take precedence over holidays and extended parent-time, except Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.”
So, except Father’s Day and Mother’s Day, birthdays are more important than holidays.
This means if you have a holiday, and it’s your ex’s year for your child’s birthday, which happens to fall on your holiday, you’re out of luck.
Let’s take Christmas as an example. If you have the first part of the Christmas break, which always includes Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but it’s your child’s birthday on December 25 and it’s your ex’s year for the birthday, your ex gets your child on Christmas.
Completely nuts, right? That’s how I feel about it too, but that’s the way the law is written.
And what’s even more nuts is the next year when it’s your ex’s year for Christmas and your year for your child’s birthday, you would take your child on Christmas.
Now, this birthday weirdness probably won’t matter much if your child’s birthday falls on Columbus Day, or Pioneer Day, but for bigger extended-family holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, this could be a major pain.
(Note: in the law there is an exception to this holiday/birthday rule. That is if you exercise extended uninterrupted parent-time and are out of town, then you don’t need to give your child to your ex for a birthday. This makes sense. The problem is “extended uninterrupted parent-time” refers to summer vacation, not Christmas or Thanksgiving. This means that if your child’s birthday falls on Christmas or Thanksgiving, you wouldn’t be able to travel to be with family.)
Practical Solution to the Birthday/Holiday Problem
Thankfully, there is a simple, practical solution to the birthday/holiday problem.
All you have to do is agree that the year you have your child on his or her birthday will always line up with when you have the holiday on which your child’s birthday lands.
In other words, if your child’s birthday lands on Christmas, you would agree with your ex that the year when you have your child for his or her birthday is also the year you have him or her for Christmas Day. Same for the Thanksgiving holiday.
This may mean adding some language to your divorce decree specifying the switch, but that language is pretty simple.