From: Charles D. Jamieson
Our family law firm has just completed its yearly round of resolving holiday visitation disputes. Preplanning will often prevent disputes over visitation among divorced parents or parents who are separated.
The following are some suggestions to minimize conflict and maximize visitation.
- At the beginning of each year, plan out vacations you wish to take around the major holidays such as spring break, summer, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah andChristmas.
- Each parent may have their own particular individual days they wish to see their children. Those days should also be included in the planning.
- When planning Holiday visitation, individuals who are divorced should consult their settlement agreement or final judgment of divorce or separation in order to make sure that they understand clearly the contact schedule for which they have been provided. In addition, those individuals should carefully note any pre-notice time, which said agreement or orders require.
- Once your planning has been completed, you should communicate in writing, outlining your request for contact/visitation for the upcoming year. If contact/visitation is provided for in a specific settlement agreement or court order, you should cite to those particular paragraphs in your visitation communication.
- If you receive no objection from the opposing party, then you should follow up your communication in 30 days. Your follow-up communication should state that you have not received any objection or comment on your proposed schedule so you assume that your proposed visitation schedule has been approved.
- If you receive an oral objection, then you should immediately communicate in writing to the opposing party when, how, and what was stated when and how you received the objection.
- You also should state in your written communication what was said during the conversation. The importance of doing this is so you can create a written record to substantiate your communications.
- Once you have confirmed the oral objection in your written communication, you should take the copies of the correspondence to your attorney and request that your attorney contact the opposing attorney immediately to attempt to resolve this objection.
- If the objection cannot be resolved through negotiation with the opposing attorney, then you will still have plenty of time in which to bring a motion to obtain your requested visitation.
Generally speaking what happens is that everyone waits until the last minute to declare their visitation schedule. They feel a great amount of frustration and anger when their reasonable requests are objected to or refused.
Unfortunately, under such circumstances little can be done by their attorney to have their complaint heard before the appropriate judge prior to the commencement of the visitation.
In summary, to avoid undue expense or emotional turmoil, and eventually missing your visitation with your children, plan ahead, communicate early, document all communications in writing, and communicate early with your attorney. If you follow those steps, then you maximize your chances for obtaining the visitation that you desire and which your children richly deserve.