In Pennsylvania, the system for visitation of the minor children is generally handled much like it is in all other states. Generally, a custody and visitation agreement is negotiated by the parties and signed by the family law judge. The breach of such an agreement could be contempt of court and could expose the violating parent to changes or reductions in his or her visitation privileges, depending on the circumstances.
It is a common experience that separated or divorced couples get quite anxious, at least in the beginning years, over the implementation of visitation during the holidays. This may not apply in those cases where the parents have succeeded in working liberally together, without recrimination, to make things work for the children. In those situations, usually set up as shared custody arrangements, extra hours are freely given back and forth by mutual agreement, and changes are easily made when shifting schedules and various family matters may require changed holiday hours.
Regarding the more traditional arrangements, where there is a primary physical custodian and a noncustodial parent with limited visitation rights, the holidays and special events often represent high-tension periods between the estranged former partners. In Pennsylvania and most states, the courts will encourage the parties to include specific holiday schedules and special events in the custody visitation agreement to be signed as a court order. With these matters detailed in a court order, it is difficult for the parties to argue about the meaning and implementation of the order.
However, dissension and arguments do arise in those relationships where the estranged parties do not cooperate and communicate well with each other. In those instances, family law attorneys in Pennsylvania are sometimes put on call over the holidays to be available by phone to help mediate and resolve disputes that may come up. Because the courts are closed and judges unavailable for emergency squabbles over visitation, the parties must strive to make an extra effort to follow the agreements and mandates in place for holiday visitations. Whenever a change is necessary, the affected party must contact his or her attorney as far in advance of the date as possible, especially in those situations where the parents cannot work it out amicably.
Source: wsaw.com, "Family law attorney says to make sure custody agreement is in place for holidays", Amber Luckett, Nov. 22, 2017