If you are a separated or divorced parent confused over your holiday parent-time schedule, you are not alone. You would think figuring out when you have your children for a holiday would be straightforward. Unfortunately, it is not so easy if your custody order follows the statutory holiday schedules. Oftentimes, even attorneys are unable to agree on their interpretations of the holiday schedule.
The first step to figuring out what holiday schedule applies to you is looking at your custody decree or order. You may have an order that specifically identifies the division of holidays with straightforward start and end times. If so, count yourself lucky. But it is more likely that you have a custody order that references one of the parent-time statutes (e.g. Utah Code Sections 30-3-35, 30-3-35.1, or 30-3-35.2).
The statutory parent-time schedules divide holidays between even-numbered years and odd-numbered years. Essentially holidays alternate between the parents throughout the year. The statute lists the holidays assigned to the non-custodial parent (the parent who has less parent-time) in even and odd numbered years. The custodial parent’s holidays in even-numbered years are the holidays assigned to the non-custodial parent in odd-numbered years. In odd-numbered years, the custodial parent gets the non-custodial parent’s assigned even numbered year holidays.
The primary difference between the holiday schedules in Utah Code Section 30-3-35 and Section 30-3-35.1 is when the holiday ends. In Section 30-3-35, holidays generally end at 7 p.m. the night before school resumes. In Section 30-3-35.1, holidays extend through to the morning when school commences. Let’s take the President’s Day holiday as an example. The holiday typically involves a 3-day weekend with school resuming on Tuesday morning. Under Section 30-3-35, the holiday weekend ends at 7 p.m. on Monday and under Section 30-3-35.1, the holiday weekend ends Tuesday morning when school resumes.
This is where it gets tricky. Holidays include any snow days, teacher development days, or other days when school is not scheduled and is contiguous to the holiday. For instance, if school dismisses on Thursday before Martin Luther King’s birthday weekend then the holiday extends from Thursday through Monday at 7 p.m. or Tuesday morning when school commences, depending upon which schedule you follow. If the holiday falls on a weekend or on a Friday or Monday and the total holiday period extends beyond that time and the parent is free to care for the children, then the holiday extends over the time school is out. For instance, if a school takes off the week following President’s Day weekend, then the President’s Day holiday includes the weekend and the following week. Parent-time would resume either at 7 p.m. the night before school starts or the day school starts.
There are other nuances to holidays, including when parent-time can commence. The best advice is to use common sense. Talk to the other parent to ensure you are both on the same page. If you are not, reach out to your attorneys if you have one. Holidays are difficult enough. Fighting over the length of a holiday only adds to the stress.