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Thanksgiving and Child Custody Visitation

Posted by Joshua Wilson | Nov 21, 2019 | 0 Comments

Thanksgiving is one of the most important family holidays for families in the U.S. Most people have at least the Thanksgiving Thursday and often following Friday off of work or school, to allow for time together as a family. For parents who share custody of a child, Thanksgiving can be a source of contention as the parent who does not see the children over Thanksgiving may feel left out of the family celebration. 

Around family holidays, other family members may try and get involved in visitation and custody disputes, which can escalate the issues and may not help lead to a successful resolution. Talk to your Missouri family law attorney about planning for Thanksgiving visits and handling visitation disputes

Child Custody and Visitation Schedule

For many children, it is important for a child to spend quality time with each parent, including holidays and get-togethers with family. Ideally, parents will work together to create a visitation and custody schedule that balances time between both parents. Unfortunately, parents may find it difficult to work together, especially where there is still resentment surrounding the separation. 

Whatever the parenting plans are for Thanksgiving and other holidays, parents should make sure the schedules and plans are made well in advance. Although holidays are supposed to be joyous events, they are often very stressful, especially for families coordinating time away from work, travel delays, and the financial stress of holidays and expensive travel. Stress and last-minute planning can make it more difficult for divorced parents to work together to make sure their children have a carefree holiday.

Thanksgiving Holiday Visits

Some possible holiday visitation schedules for parents and Thanksgiving can include alternating the holiday, dividing up the long weekend, or one parent spending Thanksgiving with the child and the other parent has another designated holiday, like Christmas. 

A New Thanksgiving Date 

Another option for parents is to celebrate the holiday twice, once on the Thursday of Thanksgiving and once on a “non-traditional” Thanksgiving day, perhaps the weekend before or week after the designated holiday. After all, the original U.S. Thanksgiving holiday was moved to its current date by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939. 

Thanksgiving in the U.S. was started by a resolution from Congress in 1789. It has been regularly celebrated on the last Thursday in November since being standardized by Abraham Lincoln in 1863. However, in 1939, President Roosevelt moved the holiday up one week, hoping that moving the holiday would help retail sales during the Great Depression. Since 1941, Thanksgiving remains celebrated on the second to last Thursday in November. 

Sharing Thanksgiving Parenting Time

It can be difficult for parents to share the Thanksgiving holiday season or provide enough time for both parents, even if they live nearby. One of the issues with Thanksgiving is that so many people travel for the holiday. Last year, AAA projected more than 54 million people would travel 50 miles or more away from home. Plane ticket prices may also be two to three times higher than usual over the days before Thanksgiving. 

With increased congestion, travel times, and higher airline rates, it is often not possible for a child to spend half of the 4 day weekend with one parent and half with another. This is why alternating Thanksgivings every year or so is one of the most common options for splitting Thanksgiving. 

Holidays and Parenting Time Disputes  

If you and the other parent get into a child custody or visitation dispute over Thanksgiving or other holiday, talk to your Missouri family law attorney for options and ways to resolve your parenting time disputes. Contact the Joshua Wilson Law Firm today. You can reach us by phone at (816) 331-9968 or fill out our online form.

About the Author

Joshua Wilson

Divorce is complex and highly emotional. Everything is going to change, including your most important personal relationships, your finances, your daily routine, and -- of course -- your home life. This can be a stressful time, and the parties involved often are not thinking clearly. You need some...


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