Each year I update this post to make it relevant for the upcoming Thanksgiving and Winter Break parenting time. Holiday parenting time is often a source of confusion, and this year is more complicated because there are two sets of Guidelines what may apply. For information about which set of Guidelines apply, please see my general Parenting Time Guidelines page.
This posting will provide the specific language of both the "old" Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines and the "new" Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines, if your child's Winter Break is from Friday, December 20, 2013 and the first day back will be Monday, January 6, 2014. These times are consistent with the Carmel Clay School Corporation academic calendar. For links to your school system calendar see my "Indiana Schools" page which offers information about all Indiana school corporations. Please note that the holiday parenting time is controlled by when a child gets out of school, therefore, your situation may not follow this interpretation. To discuss this further please contact me.
Here is what the "old" Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines presently say about the winter holidays:
HOLIDAY PARENTING TIME SCHEDULE (Under the Old Guidelines).
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.
In years ending with an even number, the non-custodial parent shall exercise the following parenting time:  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.  Thanksgiving. From 6:00 P.M. on Wednesday until 7:00 P.M. on Sunday.
After reviewing the Guidelines, if your child gets out of school on December 20th and goes back on January 6th, one interpretation of the Guidelines for the winter holidays in 2013-2014 is as follows:
- Thanksgiving Break - with custodial parent in 2013;
- Winter School Break - with the noncustodial parent from December 20th at 8 p.m. until December 25th at noon, then the custodial parent would have the child from December 25th at noon until December 30th at 7 p.m., whereupon the noncustodial parent would have the child from December 30th at 7 p.m. until January 5th at 7 p.m.
Typically the guidelines give the parent who does not have Christmas day the right to have the child noon to 9 p.m. on Christmas day; however, this year if the child's school gets out on December 20th, the Winter Break division is on December 25th.
Here is what the “new” Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines say about the winter holiday (note: the new guidelines still refer to the school Winter Break as a “Chirstmas Vacation”:
HOLIDAY PARENTING TIME SCHEDULE (Under the New Guidelines).
The Christmas vacation shall be defined as beginning on the last day of school and ending the last day before school begins again. Absent agreement of the parties, the first half of the period will begin two hours after the child is released from school. The second half of the period will end at 6:00 p.m. on the day before school begins again. Each party will receive one half (1/2) of the total days of the Christmas vacation, on an alternating basis as follows:
1. In even numbered years, the custodial parent shall have the first one half (1/2) of the Christmas vacation and non-custodial parent shall have the second one half (1/2) of the Christmas vacation.
2. In odd numbered years, the non-custodial parent shall have the first one half (1/2) of the Christmas vacation and custodial parent shall have the second one half (1/2) of the Christmas vacation.
3. 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.
4. No exchanges under this portion of the rule shall occur after 9:00 p.m. and before 8:00 a.m., absent agreement of the parties.
New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day shall not be considered separate holidays under the Parenting Time Guidelines.
Thanksgiving. From 6:00 P.M. on Wednesday until 7:00 P.M. on Sunday, shall be exercised by the noncustodial parent in even numbered years and the custodial parent in odd numbered years.
After reviewing the new Guidelines, if your child gets out of school on December 20th, at 3:00 p.m. and goes back on January 6th, there are 16 days and 1 hour of winter break. One interpretation of the Guidelines for the winter holidays in 2013-2014 is as follows:
- Thanksgiving Break - with custodial parent in 2013;
- Winter School Break - with noncustodial parent from December 20th until December 28th, but the custodial parent would have the child on December 25th from noon to 9 p.m., then the custodial parent would have the child from December 28th until January 5th at 6 p.m.
It is also important to note that the “new” Guidelines clarified the hierarchy between holiday parenting time and regular parenting time, and state that sometimes, due to holiday parenting time, a parent may have 3 weekends in a row. However, the “old” Guidelines are not consistent with the “new” Guidelines on these points. So there are not only different holiday schedules, but also different rules regarding how to set the regular parenting time schedule after the holidays, i.e. who has the weekend following the holidays. Remember that “existing parenting time orders in effect on March 1, 2013 shall be enforced according to the parenting time guidelines that were in effect on the date the parenting time order was issued.”
Looking for the "old" guidelines? Go here.