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Holidays and Custody Schedules: Bah Humbug!

Written by Susan M. Gibson Thursday, December 01 2016 15:54

The winter holidays often bring joy, cheer, and good times with family and friends (and sometimes a little stress!) For families who share custody of their children, the holidays can also bring an additional amount of stress relating to how to share the holiday time with their children’s other parent.  Here are some tips for reducing that stress:

1. Dust off the ol’ Custody Order

 For most separated families, there is a holiday provision in your existing custody order that will let you know what the plan is for the holidays.  Now is the time to find it, read it, and remind yourself of what it provides for your particular situation.  If you are ok with what the order says, or if you have been operating as a separated family for many years and you know what you will do for the holidays, then you are all set to kick back and enjoy the quality time with your family!  If you realize the order is not very clear, if it leaves you with some questions, or if you do not like what it says, then keep on reading.

2. Communicate!

 First and foremost, and if at all possible, begin the conversation with your children’s other parent now if you do not have a plan for the holidays, or want to make changes to an existing plan.  Do not wait until the day before your holiday to realize that you do not have a plan, that you do not like the plan, or that you would like to make some changes to the plan.  Even if you have been following a certain arrangement for many years, you can always ask the other parent to cooperate to make any changes if that arrangement doesn’t make sense for this year, for whatever reason.  If the other parent agrees to any changes, then it is a good idea to confirm those agreements in writing between the two of you, and, if necessary, through your attorneys.

3. Call your attorney

 If there are changes or clarifications you need for this year that you cannot work out directly with your children’s other parent, then call your attorney as soon as you realize there may be an issue.  With the help of your legal counsel, you may be able to negotiate an agreement that will work for you and for your children.  The sooner you identify if there will be a problem, the sooner you can work through the problem, and focus on the good parts of this holiday season.

Our family law practice group wishes you and yours a healthy, happy, stress-free, holiday season with your loved ones!

Employers have been working to comply with new overtime rules issued by the United States Department of Labor that raise the salary level in order to meet certain exemptions from overtime rules before a December 1, 2016 deadline.  Those rules require that in addition to meeting certain requirements with regard to an employee’s duties, the employee must also earn a minimum salary of $47,476.  The old rule required that the employee earn a minimum salary of $23,660.  The dramatic increase in the salary requirement caused employers to reevaluate classifications and to generate new policies regarding overtime and work hours.

 On November 22, 2016, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas issued a preliminary injunction, temporarily barring the Department of Labor from enforcing the new overtime rule.  The order will remain in place pending a full hearing on the issue.  While the order is temporary, as a prerequisite to entering the order, the Court was required to find that there was a substantial likelihood of success on the merits of the argument that the DOL exceeded its authority in promulgating the rule.  So, there is some indication that the Court may bar enforcement of the new rules permanently. 

 For now, employers are temporarily relieved of the obligation to comply with the new rules by the December 1, 2016 deadline.  Because the outcome is not guaranteed, employers should have their new policies ready to go, but do not need to implement them on December 1.  It is simply too early to say whether employers should “shelve” those new policies.  We will have to wait for the Court’s final ruling.   Stay tuned to this space as the case unfolds. 

Patricia Collins is an employment and litigation Partner at Antheil Maslow & MacMinn, LLP and chair of the labor and employment practice group.

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