We all love one more day tacked on our weekends, except when it disrupts the flow of a smoothly operating parenting plan. The extra time is great for spending with family and friends, exploring your area and relaxing from the pressures of work and life. But if you’re a co-parenting family, you know that federal holidays that incorporate a 3-day weekends can cause co-parenting challenges both in who wants to have that day with their child(ren) and those who must work and then provide day care.

In the U.S. there are 6 federal holidays recognized each year on Mondays, creating 3-day weekends.

U.S. Federal Holidays/3-Day Weekends

  • Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.: Third Monday in January.
  • George Washington’s Birthday: Third Monday in February.
  • Memorial Day: Last Monday in May.
  • Labor Day: First Monday in September.
  • Columbus Day: Second Monday in October.

Here are some common questions around co-parenting and extended holiday weekends:

1) What’s the best way to divide or share 3-day holiday weekends?

Both parents typically want to spend extra time with the child during the holidays, so dividing up and sharing holiday weekends is an important part of your holiday schedule and should be included in your parenting plan. Some common approaches include:

  • Alternating 3-day weekend holidays
  • Splitting the long weekend
  • Extend the normal weekend schedule by the extra day.
  • Or, as most families do today – allowing the Monday to follow the regular parenting plan

2) What happens when it’s my holiday with the kids but the ex’s weekend?

In almost all parenting plans, holiday schedules take precedence over normal weekend parenting time.  So, if a holiday falls on a weekend that is not your parenting time, but your parenting agreement says that it’s your holiday with the kids, then the child(ren) will be with you.

The normal weekend schedule then resumes which may result in you having the kids multiple weekends in a row and usually neither parent believes this is fair or even in the best interest of the child(ren).

3) What if I have to work but my children have no school due to a 3-day weekend? Who’s responsible for the additional day of child care?

Most commonly the parent who is assigned parenting time for this holiday would be responsible if they have to schedule child care due to a work conflict.  However, in some states, courts have ruled that both parents are responsible for providing child care during these types of situations; in others, only one parent has this responsibility.

If you’re not sure what your state’s laws say about this situation, and it’s not outlined in your parenting plan, it’s best to talk with an attorney who can help you figure out what your rights may be.  Adding clarification to parenting plans is routinely done as you practice the terms and see what to add to improve your co-parenting arrangements.

4) What if a 3-day weekend is not included in our parenting plan? 

Juneteenth is the newest federal holiday, signed into law in 2021, and is observed annually on June 19th. When Juneteenth falls on a weekend, schools and businesses close the Friday prior or the following Monday, rather than on the 19th, creating a 3-day weekend. If you’ve been divorced for a while, it may not be included in your parenting plan.

Strictly speaking, if a holiday is not mentioned, it should be treated like any other day.  Of course, you’re free to work out a compromise together, but if you can’t agree on an equitable arrangement, stick with what your parenting plan says.

5) What if a holiday is not included in our parenting plan?

You can request a parenting plan review if something was missed, if your circumstances have changed or if you and your ex-spouse or partner no longer agree on parenting time arrangements. You can also request a review if there is new information that may affect your child’s best interests.

A parenting plan review is similar to an initial custody evaluation, but it’s only for parents who already have a parenting plan, not for those who are starting from scratch.

The court will review the original parenting plan and determine if it still meets the needs of the children involved. If not, they’ll make changes to it based on what they think is best for them.

With a solid holiday schedule in place, your parenting plan will provide the guidance needed to co-parent effectively throughout the year, so 3-day weekends can be peaceful and relaxing.  Adding an addendum to your parenting plan is not difficult if you utilize the skills of a family law attorney.

If you are experiencing a difficult co-parenting situation with your co-parent, we are here to help. Call McMurdie Law and Mediation at (480) 777-5500 to schedule a consultation.