One of the most contentious issues in co-parenting is deciding where the children spend the holidays.
Parents who divorce or separate can come up with their own agreements regarding the holidays, or they can leave the decision up to the judge. The judge will make a determination of the child’s best interests, within the framework of Indiana law.
In this article, we will tell you what co-parents need to know about splitting the holidays in Indianapolis, IN.
The Holiday Parenting Time Schedule Takes Precedence Over Other Scheduled Time
Indiana law presumes, unless the facts show otherwise, that children need time with both of their parents. That’s why custody agreements may place the child with different parents on alternating weekends.
Most of the year, the child spends one weekend with one parent and the next weekend with the other parent. However, over a holiday, the custody agreement may require that the child stays with the same parent for three weekends in a row.
Indiana courts will assign additional weekend time throughout the year when one parent misses a weekend with the child due to a holiday. When the court orders a change in physical custody, the judge will decide whether the new holiday schedule starts on the day the judgment is delivered or at the beginning of the next calendar year.
Indiana Custody Agreements Have Special Rules for Christmas and Other Holidays
Even if parents do not celebrate Christmas, Indiana custody agreements divide the time the child spends with each parent over the Christmas holidays. As a matter of convenience, the courts define the Christmas holiday by the dates set by the school district where the child resides, even if the child is not yet in school.
Christmas holidays begin at 6:00 PM on the day students are released from school. Christmas holidays end at 6:00 PM on the day before students have to return to school. Each parent gets the child for half of the holidays.
In even-numbered years, the custodial parent gets the child for the first half of the Christmas holidays, and the non-custodial parent gets the child for the second half.
In odd-numbered years, the non-custodial parent gets the child for the first half of the Christmas holidays, and the custodial parent gets the child for the second half.
When Christmas does not fall during a parent’s time with the child, that parent shall have the child from noon to 9 P.M. on Christmas Day. The child will not be exchanged before 8 A.M. or after 9 P.M. on Christmas.
New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are considered as part of the Christmas holidays, not as separate days.
The child is with the custodial parent in even-numbered years and with the non-custodial parent in odd-numbered years for:
- Memorial Day, from Friday at 6:00 P.M. to Monday at 6:00 P.M.
- Labor Day, from Friday at 6:00 P.M. to Monday at 6:00 P.M.
- Thanksgiving, from Wednesday at 6:00 P.M. to Sunday at 6 P.M.
Similar rules apply to Presidents Day and Martin Luther King Day, if the child’s school observes them as holidays.
No parent gets the child for all of the holidays. The child is with the non-custodial parent in even years and the custodial parent in odd-numbered years for:
- Spring Break, from 6:00 P.M. on the day the child is released from school to 6:00 P.M. the day before the child goes back to school.
- Easter, from Friday at 6:00 P.M. to Sunday at 6:00 P.M.
- Fourth of July, from 3:00 P.M. on July 3 to 5 P.M. on July 5.
- Fall Break, from 6:00 P.M. on the day the child is released from school to 6:00 P.M. the day before the child goes back to school.
- Halloween, from 6:00 P.M. to 9 P.M. or for the time designated for trick or treating where the controlling parent lives.
Other religious holidays can be added to the schedule as appropriate. The general principle is to divide custodial time over a two-year period as fairly as possible.
Indiana Custody Agreements Have Special Rules for Special Holidays
Co-parenting agreements in Indiana designate where the child will be on Mother’s Day, or Father’s Day, and on birthdays.
Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. The child stays with the mother on Mother’s Day weekend, from 6:00 PM on Friday to 6:00 PM on Sunday. The child stays with the father on Father’s Day weekend from 6:00 PM Friday to 6:00 PM on Sunday.
If one of the parents loses a weekend with the child as a result of the Mother’s Day and Father’s Day schedule, it is made up at some other time during the year.
Children’s Birthdays. In even-numbered years, the noncustodial parent has all of the children on each child’s birthday from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM, unless it is a school day for that child. If the child is in school on that day, the noncustodial parent has the children from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM.
In odd-numbered years, the custodial parent has all of the children on each child’s birthday from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM, unless the birthday falls on a day the children have to go to school. Similarly, in that case, the custodial parent has all of the children from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM.
Parent’s Birthdays. The mother has the child on her birthday from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM, unless it is a school day. If it is a school day, she has custody from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM. The father has the child on his birthday from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM, unless it is a school day. If it is a school day, he has custody from 5:00 to 8:00 PM.
If the child’s birthday falls on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or a holiday, then the rules for that day take precedence over birthday rules. If the parent’s birthday falls on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or a holiday, then the rules for that day also take precedence over holiday rules.
These rules do not require any parent to be excluded from or included in a family birthday celebration. They only determine which parent is in charge of it.
Are You Receiving Your Full Custodial Rights?
Indiana family law is complicated!
Trapp Law, LLC understands the intricacies of Indiana law and can make sure you get all the visitation time your custody agreement requires. Call us at (317) 423-1823 or contact us today to request a consultation!