How Do New York Courts Determine Holiday Visitation?

By The Law Offices of Paul A. Boronow, PC on November 1, 2017

holiday-sweaterHolidays are always rapidly approaching, and there are likely many things on you and your family’s to-do list. The holiday season is typically a joyous time, particularly for children. When a child’s parents are separated or divorced there may be conflicts regarding child visitation time that need to be resolved.

All New York family courts view matters involving custody and visitation with the same broad focus: the court makes decisions based on what is in the “best interest” of the child.

Who Is Eligible to Apply for Visitation Rights?

A child’s parent, whether married or unmarried, is eligible for visitation rights. Legally, parents who assumed their role through adoption are considered in the same ways as biological parents, regardless of gender or sexual preferences. Others who may seek visitation include grandparents, siblings, stepbrothers, stepsisters, and more.

The Process

The family court recognizes and subscribes to a more specific belief—that it is generally in a child’s best interest (regardless of the relationship between the parents) to maintain healthy relations with both parents. In accordance with this, it seems logical that the child should have an opportunity to spend holidays and other occasions with either parent.

As with the majority of visitation-related issues, the best court-based solution is to proactively incorporate these holiday arrangements in as part of the overall parenting plan. Here’s an example of how this is constructed in a New York family court parenting plan:

Holiday Schedule: The following holiday schedule will take priority over the regular weekday, weekend, and summer schedules previously outlined. If a holiday is not specified as even, odd or every year with one parent, then the child will remain with the normally scheduled parent.

  • When parents using an alternating weekend plan and the holiday schedule would result in one parent having the child for three consecutive weekends, the alternating pattern will restart, so neither parent will go without having the child for over two weekends in a row.
  • If a parent has the child on a weekend with an unspecified holiday or non-school day attached, they will have the child for that holiday or non-school day. Fill in the blanks below with the parent’s name to indicate where the child will be for the holidays.

 Holiday                 Even Years    Odd Years                   Every Year    Beginning/Ending Times

Mother’s Day    _________               _________             ___________    __________________

Father’s Day     _________               _________             ___________    __________________

Thanksgiving    _________              _________             ___________    __________________

(continued for all applicable…)

Modifications to Holiday Visitation Schedules

The New York family courts are able to make changes and modifications to a child’s custody and visitation plans up until the child is 18. Those parents wishing to make a change(s) to the order can file a modification document with the court where the original order was issued. Again, courts base their decisions upon such changes consistent with the child’s “best interest” considerations. It is recommended that in these and all family court matters that you retain the services of a New York family law attorney for assistance.

At the Law Offices of Paul A. Boronow, PC, we have been successfully representing clients in the various aspects of family law throughout the Long Island and Nassau County areas for over 20 years. There has been no secret to our success; rather, we strive to deliver a client-centric approach and evaluate all possible outcomes and solutions. Call the office at (516) 227-5353 to coordinate a consultation.

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Posted in: Child Custody

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