When it comes to divorced parent visitation, there are holidays and then there are holidays.
Pioneer day is a holiday. It’s kind of cool, but it’s usually not a huge deal for Utah divorced families.
No one fights about Pioneer Day visitation.
Christmas is a holiday. Christmas is incredibly important for most Utah families because it’s a major religious holiday and because it’s so closely tied to visiting extended family.
Divorce parents will fight about Christmas visitation.
The point of this post is to help families not fight about Christmas visitation.
Here are a few suggestions about how to reduce conflict:
- Know the 2017 Utah Christmas visitation schedule.
The Utah law governing 99% of divorce decrees and Christmas visitation is Utah Code, Section 30-3-5. Here are the relevant parts of 30-3-35:
||In years ending in an odd number, the noncustodial parent is entitled to the following holidays:
. . .
||the first portion of the Christmas school vacation as defined in Subsection 30-3-32(3)(b) including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, continuing until 1 p.m. on the day halfway through the holiday period, if there are an odd number of days for the holiday period, or until 7 p.m. if there are an even number of days for the holiday period, so long as the entire holiday period is equally divided.
. . .
||In years ending in an even number, the noncustodial parent is entitled to the following holidays:
. . .
||the second portion of the Christmas school vacation as defined in Subsection 30-3-32(3)(b), beginning 1 p.m. on the day halfway through the holiday period, if there are an odd number of days for the holiday period, or at 7 p.m. if there are an even number of days for the holiday period, so long as the entire Christmas holiday period is equally divided.
With this in mind, get out your child’s school schedule and determine where he or she will be during the Christmas break.
If your child is too young for school, look at the calendar in your neighborhood school to determine how Christmas vacation will be divided.
- Communicate with your ex about Christmas visitation time-frames.
Once you figure out the schedule, communicate with your ex about visitation.
Honestly, it’s probably a better idea to talk to sit down with your ex and go over the school calendar together. That way you both are on the same page about things in real time.
And please, make sure you plan well enough that your child can get a good night’s rest before he or she returns to school the next day.
- Communicate with your ex about Christmas travel plans.
If you and your ex live in different states, once you’ve figured out the days where your child will be, you need to communicate about travel arrangements.
Talk through buying plane tickets. Times. Prices. Logistics.
If you’re both part of the planning process, you’ll have a much lower chance of experiencing significant conflict.
- Know who pays which travel costs.
Your divorce decree will tell you (or, for the love of heaven, should tell you) how Christmas travel costs will be split.
Sometimes, things are split 50/50. Sometimes, one person picks up 100% of the costs.
Know who owes what before you buy ticket and make arrangements.
If you share 50/50 costs, work together to minimize costs. Almost nothing creates more conflicts than one ex incurring travel costs without the ex’s consent.