How to Pick a Divorce Lawyer

Do you LOVE your divorce lawyer? Be honest – because most people really don’t. But think about it: Your divorce lawyer is someone with whom you are going to be spending a LOT of time over the next few months to a year (or more, if there’s a lot of contention between you and the Mr. or Mrs.). And this person will, by the time it’s all said and done, know all of the most intimate details of your life – personal, romantic, financial, maybe even religious, if there are kids involved. This is the person who will help you figure out what you’re entitled to – and what your spouse is. This is the person who will help shape your relationship with your KIDS, by advocating for you, drafting motions and pleadings, negotiating with Hubby or Wifey. So take your time, ask questions, do your homework, sit down with an attorney that you’re considering hiring, and grill them. Get to know him or her. Interview him or her thoroughly – because after all, no matter what your job is, I can guarantee you’ll never hire for a position more important than your divorce attorney. (Shameless plug: FREE CONSULTATIONS! If you’re considering a split, give me a call. Come in and meet me. Put me on the spot. Because I want to be the divorce lawyer YOU LOVE.)

2013 Holidays and the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines (OLD AND NEW)

Confused about holiday parenting time? Here’s a breakdown of Thanksgiving and winter break under both the OLD and NEW Parenting Time Guidelines. This guide uses Carmel Clay Schools winter break (Dec. 20 – Jan. 6), so if your school follows a different schedule, adjust accordingly. Happy holidays!

Do the Guidelines apply in my case?

The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines outline the “default” parenting time schedule for parents who are raising their children separately, either because of divorce or because they were never married in the first place.  The Guidelines are often used by judges and lawyers as a starting point for an order, or to fill in parenting time provisions where parents don’t have an agreement.  ALWAYS check your particular court order or court-approve agreement to determine if the PTG apply to your case.  If your Order or Agreement provides something different than what the Guidelines say, always follow your agreement.

Which Guidelines apply – the Old Guidelines or the New Guidelines?

There are two different versions of the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines – the “old” version and the “new” version.  The old PTG were in effect until March 1 of 2013, when the new ones took over.  Therefore, if your order or agreement was entered prior to March 1, 2013, then you will follow the old PTG (unless your agreement or order states that you follow whatever PTG are in effect at any given time).  If your order or agreement was entered March 1, 2013 or later, then you would fall under the new PTG.

Holidays and the OLD Parenting Time Guidelines

From the OLD PTG: 

Christmas Vacation. One-half of the period which will begin at 8:00 P.M. on the evening the child is released from school and continues to December 30 at 7:00 P.M. If the parents cannot agree on the division of this period, the custodial parent shall have the first half in even-numbered years. In those years when Christmas does not fall in a parent’s week, that parent shall have the child from Noon to 9:00 P.M. on Christmas Day. The winter vacation period shall apply to pre-school children and shall be determined by the vacation period of the public grade school in the custodial parent’s school district.  In years ending with an even number, the non-custodial parent shall exercise the following parenting time: [1] New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. (The date of the new year will determine odd or even year). From December 30th at 7:00 P.M to 7:00 P.M. of the evening before school resumes. [4] Thanksgiving. From 6:00 P.M. on Wednesday until 7:00 P.M. on Sunday.

So what does it mean?

THANKSGIVING: Custodial parent gets Thanksgiving Break in 2013. 

WINTER BREAK:  The kids are with non-custodial parent from December 20 at 8:00 pm, until December 25 at noon. Then custodial parent has the children from noon on Christmas Day until 7:00 pm December 30. The kids are back with non-custodial parent from 7:00 pm December 30 until the night before school resumes, January 5 at 7:00 pm.

Holidays and the NEW Parenting Time Guidelines

From the NEW PTG: 

The Christmas vacation shall be defined as beginning on the last day of school and ending the last day before school begins again. Absent agreement of the parties, the first half of the period will begin two hours after the child is released from school. The second half of the period will end at 6:00 p.m. on the day before school begins again.  Each party will receive one half (1/2) of the total days of the Christmas vacation, on an alternating basis as follows: 

  1. In even numbered years, the custodial parent shall have the first one half (1/2) of the Christmas vacation and non-custodial parent shall have the second one half (1/2) of the Christmas vacation.  
  2. In odd numbered years, the non-custodial parent shall have the first one half (1/2) of the Christmas vacation and custodial parent shall have the second one half (1/2) of the Christmas vacation.  
  3. In those years when Christmas does not fall in a parent’s week, that parent shall have the child from Noon to 9:00 P.M. on Christmas Day.  
  4. No exchanges under this portion of the rule shall occur after 9:00 p.m. and before 8:00 a.m., absent agreement of the parties. 
  5. New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day shall not be considered separate holidays under the Parenting Time Guidelines.  Thanksgiving. From 6:00 P.M. on Wednesday until 7:00 P.M. on Sunday, shall be exercised by the noncustodial parent in even numbered years and the custodial parent in odd numbered years.

So what does it mean?

THANKSGIVING:  Custodial parent gets the 2013 Thanksgiving Break. 

WINTER BREAK:  The kids are with the non-custodial parent from December 20 through December 28, except that the custodial parent gets the children on Christmas Day from noon to 9:00 pm. Custodial parent gets the children December 28 through when the children go back to school. 

To Sum it Up:

Holidays can be a busy, stressful, emotional time under the best of circumstances.  Adding a confusing parenting time situation with an ex who, shall we say, lacks the Christmas spirit, can be an outright mess.  While you can’t control what Scrooge does, you ARE in charge of your own behavior, so remember to put your kids’ needs first this holiday season.  Be as flexible, reasonable, and respectful as you can with your children’s other parent – it’s the best gift you can give your kids, and it’ll keep you from getting a lump of coal in your stocking.  If the other parent refuses to follow the court order or court-approved agreement about parenting time or anything else this holiday season, keep your cool and call your lawyer.  He or she can talk you through what your options are – it may be possible to schedule make-up parenting time or even file a contempt action against the other parent and pursue sanctions, possibly including attorney’s fees.

Hang in there, and remember the reason for the season – whatever that means to you.  Have a very happy, safe, and peaceful holiday season!