Parenting Time for Christmas

Isaac Hill- Parenting Time, Published December 14, 2023

Christmas is right around the corner and many parents are furiously making plans for their families over the holidays. Buying gifts, organizing dinner plans, and inviting your friends and family are going to be top of the to-do list.

Problems arise however when the spouses are separated and young children are involved. Most people want to spend their special holiday parenting time with their children so they have the opportunity to share and build those special family memories and build on those special familial relationships. Because the holidays are so important and special for so many families, it can be difficult to negotiate the issue without the need for outside help. Luckily, Portside Law is here to help.

The first place to start is to open up the line of communication. Talking these issues out is always the preferred method when making holiday plans. In nearly all circumstances, sharing the holidays will be the result, so if you can make an agreement about what the holidays are going to look like without the need of going to court, then you will save time, money and stress. An important consideration when discussing the holiday plan is time. Figuring out a Christmas Holiday parenting time schedules takes time to work out the wrinkles in the plan and it is recommended that the conversation starts early to avoid any disappointment. Sometimes it takes a lawyer to navigate the issue and to help advise on what a fair arrangement would be, given your particular circumstance. 

If working it out between yourself fails, then the next course of action is to apply to the courts for a decision on how to divide the holidays. The starting place for this assessment is whether or not there is an order or agreement in place which outlines the parenting time for the parties. If there is an order that already specifies what the holiday parenting time is, but a party simply does not agree or wants a change to the order, then they will need to make an application to vary that order. If you are in provincial court, you will need to file either an Application About a Family Law Matter, or an Application about a priority parenting matter, depending on how much time is left until the holidays (Portside Law can help you with that distinction). If you are in Supreme Court, then a Notice of Application supported by an Affidavit outlining the facts will need to be filed. Once the documents are filed and served, you will need to attend court and argue your case. This statement is simplified; there are more steps in the process that need to be taken and it would be wise to consult with a lawyer to ensure that you are doing everything correct. 

If there is no order or agreement in place, then you need to look at whether or not there is an informal agreement in place that can be enforced. For example, the Christmas holiday has always been spent entirely with one parent at Grandma’s house since the Children were born and the Children are now 10 years old. That arrangement, despite it being informal without anything written down, can still be enforceable like it was a formal agreement given that it can be reasonably be expected that the holiday schedule that has been followed annually for 10 years will continue being followed. Applications would need to be filed in that case as well. 

If there is no order or agreement in place and there is no informal agreement in place and communication has failed, then the next step would be to formally establish a parenting time schedule. Applications would need to be filed, evidence would need to be heard, and a decision on the holiday time would need to be rendered. All of this takes time and most parents don’t start thinking about Christmas holidays until it is too late. So it is always best to start early and speak to a lawyer as soon as you can in order to avoid disappointment over the holidays and to make sure that your children have the best opportunity to build those special holiday memories with your loved ones. 

If you are having difficulty working out a holiday schedule, please contact Portside Law and we will connect you with one of our capable lawyers to see how we can best assist you. 

Disclaimer – By contacting Portside Law Corporation through email, phone or direct message does not establish an attorney-client relationship. An attorney-client relationship is formed once both parties agree in writing to such a relationship. The information found in this document is of general nature and is not intended to be legal advice. Please contact our office to speak further about any particular legal question you may have.

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