Parenting Agreements & Holiday Visitation
Parenting agreements i.e. custody agreements, timeshares (or visitation schedule), decision making authority for schooling, medical care, & extracurricular activities as well as religious upbringing- remain a major issue in divorce today.
Parenting Agreements in SC
In South Carolina, there is a legal presumption that shared parenting (equal division of rights and responsibilities) is in the best interest of children. This presumption can be challenged, but only by presenting persuasive evidence to a Family Court judge that shared parenting is not, in fact, what is best for the children. Parents also have the choice to avoid unnecessary expenses and arguments by customizing a parenting agreement outside of litigation through mediation and/ or co-parenting counseling.
Mediation is Key
Mediation is a structured and non-confrontational process that allows parties an opportunity to craft an agreement that works for them and their unique family. Mediation is different from hiring attorneys, going to court, and letting a judge decide the fate of the family. The mediator does not represent any party, but remains neutral. The mediator also does not make any judgment or decisions – they simply identify the points of disagreement and help the parties craft a parenting agreement that will fix what is broken so they can move forward.
A massive hurdle to jump while crafting a parenting agreement is the division of time during the holidays. Proactively working out a holiday visitation schedule makes everyone’s life easier, and it outlines where the children will be spending each holiday. Parents who have a better parenting agreement laid out and agreed upon by both parties can avoid potential fights that could ultimately hurt the children.
Most parents rotate major holidays like Christmas, New Year’s, Easter, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving. Parents also often decide to carve out time so they can each enjoy birthdays, Halloween, and other important events with their children. When one spouse lives further away, the schedule can be adjusted to accommodate travel time.
Lay It All Out
The certainty that comes with a clearly laid-out parenting agreement, which includes a holiday visitation schedule, can bring peace to an otherwise chaotic situation. This is why mediation is paramount when hashing out a parenting agreement amid divorce.
Our Lead Attorney, Dana Adkins, is a Certified Family Law Mediator, and is also qualified to mediate Guardianship and Conservatorship proceedings in the Probate Court.