It’s little Susie’s birthday, which is happening on Memorial Day weekend that is part of the summer break from school.  Whose parenting time is it?  When figuring out the schedule sounds like the details of a complicated story problem, disagreement between co-parents is likely.  Luckily, the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines provide a bit of guidance on how to break the tie between various holidays and special days.

Assuming that a court order directs parents to follow the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines (“Guidelines”) for holidays, special days and extended time, determining which parent will exercise parenting time on a particular day first depends on where in the Guidelines a description of the day appears. In Susie’s case above, we have a child’s birthday which appears in the “Special Days” section of the Guidelines. We also have Memorial Day weekend which appears in the “Holidays” section.  Finally, it is summer break from school, which appears in the “Extended Parenting Time” section.  When they all conflict, which one controls?

First, it’s important to remember that Holidays, Special Days and Extended Parenting Time all take precedence over the regular schedule.  When Holidays, Special Days and/or Extended

Time are in conflict, apply these rules:
Special Day vs. Extended Time = Special Day
Holiday vs. Extended Time = Holiday
Special Day vs. Holiday = Holiday

What is clear is that when anything conflicts with a Holiday, the Holiday wins.  While it’s unfortunate when a parent loses out on a parenting time occasion because of a conflict, the schedule usually comes out even over a two-year parenting time calendar based upon the alternation of holidays and special days. As a result, there is no make-up time when one type of parenting time trumps another.

So what does this mean for the parenting time scenario for Susie?  It means that the Memorial Day Holiday parenting time trumps, and the parent who is assigned this holiday under the Guidelines will also celebrate Susie’s birthday that weekend, even if the other parent would have the birthday under the Guidelines.

Seeing these conflicts coming by completing an annual parenting time calendar can help to spark discussion between parents and avoid conflicts and confusion that happen on important days throughout the years.  If you have a conflict that will occur every year such as a child born on Halloween, consider drafting your settlement agreement to deal specifically with how you and your co-parent want to handle it.  You can void the application of the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines by writing something different which the judge approves. Little Susie will be happy that her birthday, Memorial Day and summer are not full of conflict.