With the holiday season quickly approaching, it, unfortunately, may bring visitation and parenting time issues with it if you are a divorced parent in Washington. You can, however, minimize these potential conflicts by planning with your former spouse and making sure that you are both clear on which of you “gets” your children when. 

Many Washington family courts recommend that you and your children’s other parent abide by the following visitation schedules that the courts devised. 

Thanksgiving 

If you act as your children’s custodial parent, the courts recommend that in odd-numbered years, such as this one, your children remain with you during the long Thanksgiving weekend. Specifically, Thanksgiving visitation extends from 6:00 p.m. Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, to 6:00 p.m. Sunday. In even-numbered years, your children should visit their other parent during the same Thanksgiving time frame. 

Christmas 

Because Christmas represents not only the biggest holiday of the year, but also the one for which your children receive the longest holiday break from school, the courts believe that their best interests dictate that you and your former spouse share parenting time. Therefore, they recommend that in odd-numbered years, your children spend time with their noncustodial parent from 6:00 p.m. on the day school dismisses until 10:00 a.m. on whichever day marks the halfway point of their Christmas vacation. Your children spend the remainder of the time with you; i.e., from 10:00 a.m. on the day halfway through their vacation until school resumes. 

As for Christmas Day itself, however, the courts recommend that you allow your former spouse to have visitation from 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m., assuming that the two of you live within an hour’s drive from each other. (S)he must provide the necessary transportation to your house. 

When Christmas falls in an even-numbered year, the above schedule simply flips.