Just a Lawyer in Lincoln's Hometown

November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving and Visitation

Filed under: Family Law — Chuck @ 1:00 am
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You remember Henry and Samantha. They’re divorcing and trying very hard to being good parents to their children, Ken, age 8, and Jenna, age 6. They have worked out a temporary agreement on custody and visitation for Henry’s regular visitation. But although they had consulted lawyers, they went against advice and agreed to “alternate holidays.”

As every experienced divorce lawyer would have told them, this kind of language in a visitation schedule can lead to horrible complications. Even well-meaning people, like Samantha and Henry, can have a hard time deciphering what this means, and remembering who had what holiday.

Does alternating holidays mean that Samantha has Thanksgiving and Christmas this year and Henry has both next year? Does having Thanksgiving mean the day only, or from Wednesday after school until the end of the weekend. What if the tradition has been to go to Henry’s parents’ house, in town and only requiring a trip of twenty minutes, one year and to Samantha’s parent’s the next year, 500 miles away and requiring a couple of days?

To add to the confusion, what is a holiday? Samantha celebrate Thanksgiving, the first Sunday of Advent and then Christmas, while Henry only celebrates Thanksgiving and Christmas. What does this mismatch do to the “every other” language?

Again, because they are both trying to be good parents while, henry and Samantha talked about Thanksgiving before it came up, and remembered that both of their lawyers had said that what looked simple, wasn’t. Between them, the two attorneys came up with a schedule of holiday visitation that set out the hours and days that each parent had holiday visitation. For example, this year, an “even” year, Henry has the children from Wednesday after school, until Friday at 5:00 PM when Samantha gets them for the weekend (even if it would normally be Henry’s). The next year, and “odd” year, the schedule is reversed. The schedule sets out who gets what in odd and even years.

Now that the schedule is written down, in all its complicated detail, all Samantha and Henry need do is consult the schedule to know exactly who gets what holiday and what that means.

Chuck from Watson Law, LLC

November 9, 2010

Samantha & Henry: Visitation with Children

Filed under: Family Law — Chuck @ 1:00 am
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Samantha and Henry have decided that they are going to get a divorce. They simply cannot live together anymore. About five months ago Henry moved out and is living in an apartment near the house where Samantha and the children, Ken, age 8, and Jenna, age 6, live.

Both Samantha and Henry have tried to cooperate with each other over visitation with the children. They have decided that Samantha will have the children living with her, and Henry will have visitation. They have tried to arrange visitation, but there have been problems.

Being wiser than many, Samantha and Henry decided to mediate the issue. They recognized that they needed some knowledgeable help. A mediator helped them come to an agreement that met their needs. But both worried that the agreement that worked for them today might not in the future. So before they inked the deal, Samantha went to her lawyer.

The lawyer was impressed with the efforts both parties went to and the agreement itself. But he had one criticism: the agreement did not have a provision requiring periodic review. He felt that if the parties got together and reviewed how the agreement was working, they could possibly prevent minor irritations from growing into litigation producing complaints. The lawyer recommended that they get together every other one or two years.

The lawyer also told Samantha that she and Henry could informally agree to vary the agreement. He explained that the agreement represented what each of the parties could enforce against each other. But as long as they both agreed to change visitation, one time or for a long time, there was no problem. He noted however, that if the two of them wanted to make a long-term or permanent change to the visitation schedule, they probably should put the change down on paper. This helps avoid misunderstandings.

Henry and Samantha, although getting divorced, are being good parents. They understand that minimizing the effect on the children is one of their primary concerns.

We will visit Henry and Samantha again as they go through this process.

Chuck from Watson Law, LLC

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