Howard v. Laird, a recent decision of New York’s Appellate Division, Second Department, highlights the usefulness of a parenting-time calendar when entering a divorce settlement.
In Howard, the appellate court had occasion to reverse an initial post-divorce Supreme Court decision in a visitation dispute, and to send the case back to the lower court for still further proceedings. At issue was a parenting-time dispute over whether thw weekday visits of the father during the school year continued into the Summer recess. The source of the problem was an apparent gap or oversight in the parents’ divorce settlement stipulation.
What a colossal waste of the resources of the courts and the time, energy and money of the parents! Such continuing post-divorce litigation can only damage the post-divorce relationship between the parents. The impact of such continuing battles on the children, and the children’s relationships with their parents, cannot be understated.
Had the parties themselves, or their counsel, simply prepared and distributed a parenting-time calendar when the settlement stipulation was being negotiated and drafted, gaps and oversights could have been eliminated. The parents would have reached a more workable and practical stipulation.
What is a parenting-time calendar? It’s simply a calendar upon which the visitation schedule is written. It will include the basic plan, plus secular and religious holidays, school recesses, birthdays, and other dates of significance. Activities of the children, important family celebrations, and other matters may be included.
By completing the calendar, say, for the two years following the settlement, parents are able to catch most oversights and conflicts. When visualized in this fashion, changes to a settlement stipulation can be made at inception.
Moreover, posting the calendar on the refrigerator, or even online, for the children to see can help them incorporate the schedule into their lives.
How does one go about making a parenting time calendar? There’s no wrong way. Take any printed calendar and fill it out. As a practical matter, I use Microsoft Outlook and Gmail calendars at work, and both can easily be adapted to make a separate parenting time calendar or to add parenting time to a single all-purpose calendar. There are also a host of online and downloadable programs available at varying prices and even at no cost. Here are a few, without endorsement of any:
No parent should complete divorce proceedings without obtaining this very simple device which will so easily avoid years of tension, anxiety and heartache.