Holidays and Custody Schedules

Schwartz, Fox & Saltzman, LLC. – Philadelphia Divorce Lawyers

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Custody battles Ga-lore
My son doesn’t want to go
His Father is a Schmo
My daughter says his Wife is nothing but a bore…
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas
My lawyer is a Schmuck
He says my child has to be away
For Christmas Eve he cannot stay
Or I’ll being in contempt, in jail and really out of luck…..”

Have you heard this all before? One thing that is synonymous with the Holidays, in the Domestic Relations area, are the disagreements which arise over the implementation and interpretation of child custody schedules. Often, these disagreements do not surface until just before the Thanksgiving or Christmas Holidays are around the corner.

Then, what do you do? You consider filing an Emergency Custody Petition on the week or the day before a Holiday, because:

Dad says that “Thanksgiving means from the morning of Thanksgiving until the following day, because his family lives in Scranton”.

Mom says “The Custody Order says Thanksgiving Day and that means

Thursday only”.

Dad says “When we were together as a Family we always stayed overnight

in Scranton on Thanksgiving and you know that”.

Mom says “Well, we’re not together now, are we? You should have

thought of that before you slept with that Bimbo”.

So, what do you do? If Dad stays overnight in Scranton, with the kids, might he be in contempt of the Order? Does he want to take that risk?

Contrary to what you might think, this is not an “emergency” in the eyes of the Court. There is no threat of physical harm to the children and no one is fleeing permanently with the children. There is no time to file a standard Petition to Modify and get into Court before the Holiday.

Mediation and Arbitration are good alternatives to Court.

In Arbitration, the parties decide to meet with an experienced attorney, who has been trained in Mediation and Arbitration. The parties agree in writing to accept the decision of the Arbitrator or Mediator for this Holiday season. Once the Holidays are over, the parties can Mediate these issues and modify the Order. Of course, they can also file a Petition to Modify the Order with the Court and have a judge decide.

On behalf of my Office, have a blessed, joyous, peaceful and meaningful Holiday Season. Please let us know if we can be of assistance.

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