Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Holiday Parenting Time: An Unholy Mess?

Tonight I want to shoot those bright brains who concocted our Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines. Well, the Christmas and New Year's Eve/New Year's Day portion any way.

The rule on Christmas reads as follow:

B. Christmas Vacation.
One-half of the period which will begin at 8:00 P.M. on the evening the child is released from school and continues to December 30 at 7:00 P.M. If the parents cannot agree on the division of this period, the custodial parent shall have the first half in even-numbered years. In those years when Christmas does not fall in a parent’s week, that parent shall have the child from Noon to 9:00 P.M. on Christmas Day. The winter vacation period shall apply to pre-school children and shall be determined by the vacation period of the public grade school in the custodial parent’s school district.
Of course, I have the custodial parent and this is an odd numbered year. Christmas Break starts on December 21 and ends January 6 (school starts again on January 7). I count 16 days for Christmas Break.

Taking "B" above to heart, non-custodial parent has the child from December 21 to December 29 except for custodial parent's time on Christmas Day. Then custodial parent should have the children from December 29 till they go back to school, right?

Better take a look at the next part of the rules:

C. Holidays.
In years ending with an even number, the non-custodial parent shall exercise the following parenting time:

[1] New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. (The date of the new year will determine odd or even year). From December 30th at 7:00 P.M to 7:00 P.M. of the evening before school resumes.
For this rule, non-custodial parent gets the child from the 31st of December to the 6th of January. Notice that parenthetical note about the "date of the new year...."

Let's recap the dates:
  1. School ends for Break on December 21, 2007 and starts again on 1/7/2007.
  2. Non-custodial should definitely get the child from December 21 - December 29.
  3. Under the New Year's Eve rule, non-custodial gets the child from December 31, 2007 to January 6, 2008.
  4. Which leaves custodial parent with nine hours on Christmas, and then 2 other days during Christmas Break.
I will gladly admit to being tired to the point that my brains feel like mashed potatoes, but I cannot reconcile "B" and "C". Well, I can but only chucking out that infernal parenthetical language of "C". The Guideline's Commentary offers little specific help:
Recognizing there are individuals of varying faiths who celebrate holidays other than those set out in the guidelines, the parties should try to work out a holiday visitation schedule that fairly divides the holidays which they celebrate over a two-year period in as equal a manner as possible.
I cannot easily do this but these rules only make sense if the parents split the Christmas Break, keeping the provision for Christmas Day, and get rid of "...of the evening before school resumes." Make New Year's Eve and Day a holiday only for the one day and not six.

Arguing the non-custodial parent gets shafted the same way next year might make this palatable but I think that argument stretches a fair division of the holidays too thin.

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