Father’s Day On Mom’s Day….


Father’s Day can be one of the best days of the year for any father, regardless of whether his children are young or old. But, sometimes Father’s Day can instead be painful, especially when the father looks at his current child custody order, visitation schedule, or parenting plan and sees that Father’s Day is actually one of mother’s days of custodial time under the order or agreement.  

Some suggestions:

Try to Work Out a Compromise

Just like in many family law issues, the first step to be taken should be a meaningful attempt at settlement (rather than jumping into litigation). It is quite possible that the other parent will be open to modifying the custodial schedule for Father’s Day. And, it may be the case that the issue of Father’s Day was not carefully contemplated at the time that the agreement was reached or when the family law judge rendered his/her custodial order.  Take a good look at the plan/order if Father’s Day is not set forth, Mother’s Day may not be either and a compromise will benefit both parents.

It never hurts to at least ask. In contentious or potentially contentious situations, the request should be made in writing. If the other parent is not agreeable to relinquishing the entire day, then perhaps a long period of visitation in the morning or afternoon will be an option. The father could also offer to “swap” another one of his custodial days in exchange for Father’s Day.

Under a “best case” senerio an objective mediator or therapist might help you work through this issue, but that will require the parties agreeing to this method of resolution.  Again it never hurts to ask. Having such a person to be the “objective voice of reason” may help the parties work with one another to reach a resolution.

If You Can’t Agree, Then You May Have to Go to Court

I constantly remind my clients that while settlement is always a desirable option, “it takes two to settle.” So, if settlement is out of the picture, then the only alternative may be to seek intervention from the Court.

Please note that in New York State unless you are addressing this well before June it is not likely that you will get his resolved before Father’s Day, however, resolving it for other years may still be desirable.

Typically, to modify a court ordered parenting plan you must show a change in circumstances.  Most orders/judgments have a clause that states that there be “other and further parenting time as the parties agree”.  If this exists, there is no mention of Father’s Day, you can prove you requested Father’s Day in a reasonable manner and was denied, some Courts will consider this enough to modify the order/judgment.

Most family law judges will be sympathetic to the father’s plea for time with his children on Father’s Day. But, the father should make sure that he presents a reasonable request to the Court. It may be helpful to offer to “swap days” with the other parent or to indicate that the father is willing to defer to the Court’s wisdom as to a fair and equitable outcome.

Also, it is important to remember that when you go to Court you may be opening up other issues, be sure to speak to an attorney before you file for Court intervention.

If It’s Too Late This Year, Plan Ahead for Next Year

If a father does not act on this issue in a timely manner or if he is unsuccessful in doing so, he should not be discouraged. Instead, he should be proactive. First, he should set up plans for him to have “his own Father’s Day” with the children on another one of his custodial days. After all, the date for Father’s Day changes every year and the spirit of the holiday is all about celebrating the special father-child bond. Therefore, there really is no reason that the holiday can’t be done on a “make-up day” later.

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