Dad just had weekend parenting time, and this weekend is technically Mom’s weekend with the kids; however, it’s also Labor Day weekend, which happens to be Dad’s holiday weekend. What to do? What about if its Father’s Day weekend, but it’s also little Johnny’s birthday on Saturday, and the parenting time guidelines say the child’s birthday should be spent with Mom this year. What’s the tie-breaker?

Figuring out whose weekend it is can lead to confusion and disagreement. The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines (“IPTG”), including amendments as of March 1, 2013 state that “The Holiday Parenting Time Schedule shall take precedence over regularly scheduled and extended parenting time. Extended parenting time takes precedence over regular parenting time unless otherwise indicated in these Guidelines . . . If a parent misses a regular weekend because it is the other parent’s holiday, it will be lost. If a parent receives two consecutive weekends because of a holiday, that parent shall have the third weekend also.”

So, what does this mean for you and your parenting time schedule? It means that sometimes the regular schedule for parenting time is interrupted for holidays and special days (like birthdays, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day). Parenting time missed for a holiday is not made up the next weekend, and instead parents should immediately get back onto their regular schedule. Inevitably, one parent will have three weekends in a row. It also means that the summer schedule trumps the regular parenting time schedule.

The parent who misses three weekends a row may not think this sounds fair. However, remember that the following year, all the holidays will be reversed, so the other parent may benefit in this way. The goal is for holidays to even out over a two-year period, as both parents cycle through all of them.

When holidays and birthdays conflict, the IPTG provide some guidance for confused parents. The IPTG state that when a birthday – for either a child or a parent – falls within a Holiday, Special Day or Christmas vacation, the Holiday, Special Day or Christmas vacation take precedence. So, this means that little Johnny will be celebrating his birthday when he is with Dad for Father’s Day weekend. And there is no “make-up” time for Mom for missing the child’s birthday. Of course, Mom can always have her own celebration for Johnny the next time she has parenting time.

To avoid confusion your best bet is to first schedule an entire year of “regular” parenting time, rotating the weekends normally. Then go back through the calendar and carve out each parent’s Holidays and Special Days. Finally, schedule all of the summer and Christmas vacation parenting time. Don’t worry if your co-parent has three weekends in a row; you may have three weekends in a row next year.

And always remember that the IPTG are there to settle any disagreements or break any ties. If you and your co-parent want to handle Holidays and Special Days differently and you both agree, then you should do so.

For more information regarding your individual parenting time plan, contact Wanzer Edwards, PC.