Home > divorce, family law general, paternity/child custody > Division of Holidays in Utah divorce Law…Rules are a Good Thing

Division of Holidays in Utah divorce Law…Rules are a Good Thing

*Note:  This is another Utah specific blog post, but because the law is so very specific and detailed as to this topic, I highly recommend using Utah’s law as a template for your own visitation stipulation, even if you’re in another state.  Utah solves all the problems of when, what time, and who gets what holidays in a very fair way.  

So over the course of this blog’s history, you’ve heard/read me bag on various Utah laws as being, in my opinion, crap.  So it is with much pleasure that I present Utah law that is NOT crap:  The holiday division schedule for parent time located at U.C.A. § 30-3-35.  I really really like that the state has spelled out who gets what holidays, and with the detail associated with it, right down to what time exchanges should occur with the kids for the holidays.  Now, it’s not exactly an Every Other Holiday schedule…Some holidays are less important, and some are shorter in terms of the break from school.  The legislature did a pretty good job of splitting the holiday time throughout the year as a whole in a way that’s as fair as possible.

The statute divides holidays based on labeling one parent as the Non-Custodial parent.  Even in my cases where the parties have joint physical custody (anywhere from 111 overnights to a straight 50/50 split of 182/183 overnights), using the statutory holiday schedule saves a lot of stress, frustration, and irritation.  When I am working with a joint physical custody case, I generally just put language in the decree that says “FOR HOLIDAY DIVISION PURPOSES ONLY, Petitioner/Respondent (whichever one) will be referred to as the Non-Custodial Parent,” just to make it clear which parent is taking which holidays in which years.

The holidays are divided up so that whoever gets Halloween gets Thanksgiving as well that year.  The winter break from school, that includes Christmas and New Years, is divided in half, with one parent having the first half and the other having the second.  Spring Break and UEA weekend are included in the holiday division, as well as a bunch of minor Monday holidays (and some that aren’t even Monday holidays from school–like Columbus Day.)

Now, I’ve had people just freak out at the thought that they would not be spending some part of Christmas Eve/Christmas Day with their children every other year.  My take on this: When it’s my year, it is SOOOOOO nice not to have to even THINK about my ex on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day!  No child visitation exchange.  No dealing with him on the phone.  No text messages from him showing up on my phone.  No having to see him.  It’s just a nice break.  (And I’m sure he and his new wife think the same thing about me when HE has Christmas.)

The best gift you can give your kid, and YOURSELF, is a peaceful holiday...

The best gift you can give your kid, and YOURSELF, is a peaceful holiday…

One thing to note:  Holiday visitation preempts but does not otherwise change the weekend visitation schedule [see U.C.A. § 30-3-35(2)(c)].  What this means:  Your ex will at some point end up having 3 weekends in a row.  So will you.  For example:  Let’s say my ex’s weekend with the kids is February 8-10.  My weekend would be the next, February 15-17; however, this year he gets the President’s Day weekend holiday, and it happens to fall on February 15-18.  Even though that would be MY weekend, it’s his holiday, so he gets the kids that weekend.  THEN, the next weekend would have been his on our regular weekend rotation, so he gets that one, too.  So as it happens, he’ll have every weekend in February except for the first one.  Which sucks for me, but it happens to both of us at different times.  It’s okay.  You’ll be fine.  Deal with it.  Accept it.  Move on.

It IS hard to not have your kids on major holidays.  But it’s really not as bad as you might think (see my post about my Christmas Day this past year.)  A clear separation of your parent time from the ex’s really makes for a happier holiday season in general for everyone (think about your poor kids getting dragged back and forth in Parent Time Drama, instead of getting to enjoy a fun holiday, stress free).

It will all be okay in the End.  And if it’s not OK, it’s not the End.  I promise.

  1. James
    October 23, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    So if you dont have a court order for custody after a bifurcated divorce, should we go by what the Subsections 30-3-35(2)(c) through (j) states?


    • October 24, 2014 at 11:36 am

      I would suggest so, unless you and your ex can agree on something else. That’s the default the court would use for parent time in a custodial/non-custodial parenting relationship, with parties who live within 150 miles of each other.


  2. Justin
    January 16, 2015 at 7:34 pm

    what if my decree Is vague about who gets what days and holidays can I follow this code and if so how do the elections work


    • March 11, 2015 at 8:24 am

      If the decree is silent as to anything that’s in statute, yes, the default is to go by the code. Generally the non-custodial parent gets to make decisions regarding taking certain parent times; however, most of the parent time designations are nailed to the ground without either party getting to choose who gets what.


  1. December 13, 2017 at 1:36 pm

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