Start Your Custody Planning Well Before the Holidays
It’s only August, but trust us—if you share a child with an ex, the time to begin planning the holiday custody schedule is now. Mattis Law, A.P.C. has seen many families undergo extra stress around what should be the most joyful time of the year. To that end, we want to remind you which holidays are coming and give you some tips for making a strong visitation schedule that will hold up if challenged in San Diego Family Court!
Federal Holidays Still to Come in 2019
What’s a federal holiday? It is a day off for government employees, sanctioned by Title 5 of United States Code Section 6103. These holidays are observed by most private businesses as well, but not always:
- Labor Day: September 2, Monday
- Columbus Day: October 14, Monday
- Veterans Day: November 11, Monday
- Thanksgiving Day: November 28, Thursday
- Christmas Day: December 25, Wednesday
California recognizes all of the federal holidays above as state holidays, as well. State employees are given Labor Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day and the day after, and Christmas Day off, or given extra pay to work those days. Public schools are closed on those days, so your child is definitely having a holiday!
However, California law does not require private employers to close for any particular holiday, give employees the day off, or provide employees with paid holidays. There are some exceptions for religious holidays. Check your work holiday schedule in advance and find out when you have the time off to take your child. You’ll need to compare it against your co-parent’s work schedule to make a fair arrangement that the courts will agree with, if any disputes arise.
How Religious Holidays Are Determined
Employers do have to provide “reasonable accommodation” to employees who cannot work on certain holidays due to religious obligations. For an inclusive list, please visit this handout from the Anti-Defamation League.
The definition of “reasonable” varies on a case-by-case basis, depending on each company’s industry and schedule, internal policies, and the needs of the employee. Your company handbook will be an invaluable resource in determining what your employer considers “reasonable” or not.
Hashing Out Your Child’s Holiday Custody Schedule
In San Diego, Family Court Services offers private counseling sessions with a Family Court Counselor. One session will give you 1.5 to 2.5 hours to work toward a solution with your co-parent. This is one option if you can’t initially agree on your holiday custody. Hiring an attorney can help provide you with a third party who isn’t emotionally involved in the process and will suggest a schedule the judge is more likely to agree with, if your case goes to a hearing.
On a related note, many parents will divide Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We’ve found that this can put pressure on the child, if parents “go over” their time and bad feelings arise. Having a separate “Christmas” celebration for one parent on a proceeding or following weekend, when you have your child, can be a good alternative. In fact, you can create a special holiday with your child, so he or she looks forward to both “holidays” every year. Otherwise, you can alternate years for each holiday.
Being flexible and positive, along with staying polite and transparent in your communication, is the key to a happy co-parenting relationship… and a recipe for a well-adjusted son or daughter who feels loved and secure.
If you have any questions about setting up holiday visitation, or modifying your current custody schedule, please call our San Diego child custody lawyers at Mattis Law, A.P.C., to set up a free initial consultation. Our number is (858) 458-9500.