Alameda, California (EastBayDaily) — With the winter holidays rapidly approaching, many divorced or separated parents need to prepare to implement holiday custody and visitation schedules. East Bay family law attorney Gina Mariani offers simple tips to help parents, so they won’t have to get a lawyer involved, and most importantly, so their children can have a happy holiday season.
“A few small efforts on your end may save huge emotional disasters during this time,” says Mariani. “Having to hire a lawyer during the holidays can be a financial disaster, especially if your lawyer must file ex parte or emergency legal documents a week or days before the holiday. These are special times of the year for you and your family, the other parent and their family, and, most importantly, for your children.”
1. Find your most recent court order with an up-to-date outlined holiday schedule and review it now. It may be months or even years since you have reviewed the holiday visitation schedule. Make sure that you know the exact dates and times that the children are with you and the exact dates and times they will be with the other parent. Send confirmation of the holiday schedule to the other parent so that you are both on the same page. Even if you think it is clear cut, it is better to be safe than sorry with a polite e-mail or text message. 2. Create a holiday calendar for you and the children and post it in the house. Make sure everyone is familiar with the who, what, when and where, so transitions are smooth. Promote happy holidays with the other parent, even if you are disappointed that the children may not be with you on a special day. 3. As a general rule, most holiday visitation schedules supersede the regular visitation schedules. This year, in particular, the Christmas and New Year’s holidays fall on weekends. If it is normally “your” weekend, the holiday schedule may supersede it, so plan accordingly. Also, Hanukkah may interfere with “your” portion of the winter holiday schedule, so be prepared. 4. If you are confused about the holiday visitation schedule, seek clarification right away. Lawyers will usually review holiday schedules for little or no cost. Whatever the cost, it will be less than the amount of time, money and frustration it will cost you to hire an attorney to litigate your holiday schedule. 5. If you anticipate any delays or need additional time for a family event, try to work it out. Holiday schedules are created by lawyers and judges to help parents organize schedules, not hinder them. Let the other parent know in advance if the holiday party is going to run a few hours late or if presents are going to be opened a few hours early. Cooperation goes both ways. As a general rule, parents may agree to modify holiday schedules. 6. Be flexible. For instance, do not prohibit your children from visiting with the other parent’s out-of-town relatives. Even if it is “your day” and “your time,” if family members are making a special visit from out of town, do not punish your children by prohibiting visitation. This is a special time of year, and it could be the only time of the year visitation is possible. Promoting relationships with all of your children’s family members during this time is always in their best interest. 7. Call your lawyer for advice today, not a day or two before the holiday. Just like you, lawyers take vacations and time off during the holidays. It is usually difficult to reach your lawyer during this busy time. 8. This is not an ideal time to bring your case to court. Your regular family lawyer may be out of the office for the holidays. You might need to hire someone new who is not as familiar with your case, and legal professionals may charge a premium for having to do rush work during the holidays. 9. As a general rule, you cannot take minor children out of the State of California without the other parent’s express written consent. The other parent should be informed right away if you plan to leave town, and it is best practice (if not required) to give the other parent an itinerary and contact telephone numbers. If you have booked a family holiday vacation for out of the state, do not forget that the other parent’s written consent—including a Notary Public’s Acknowledgment—may be necessary. Don’t expect the other parent to agree to your prearranged holiday the day before the trip. 10. A holiday can be celebrated any day of the week! If a certain holiday with the children does not fall with you this year, do not be discouraged. It is just a date. You can celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa with your children on any day of the week.
For more information about custody, visitation and the holidays, or for any questions regarding East Bay child support or family law services, contact the Law Office of Gina M. Mariani at (510) 629-4037, or stop by the office, located at 1325 High Street, Alameda, CA 94501, to make an appointment.
About the Law Office of Gina M. Mariani Gina M. Mariani is an Alameda family law attorney who represents families on legal issues that include divorce, paternity, guardianship, child visitation, restraining orders, probate cases and child support in the East Bay and throughout the Bay Area. Personable and friendly, Mariani makes it her business to prioritize each family’s individual needs. She personally handles cases from start to finish, never handing a case off to an associate.
The Law Office of Gina M. Mariani also provides estate planning in Alameda County and beyond, helping families plan for the future and any unforeseen circumstances. Gina M. Mariani is now offering one-hour free consultations for new clients by appointment.
Gina M. Mariani
The Law Office of Gina M. Mariani