Leap Year and a fun fact: According to Universe Today magazine, it takes the Earth about 365.242189 days to go around the Sun one time. Our Gregorian calendar has only 365 days. As a result, we add an extra day to the month of February approximately every four years so that we don’t lose six hours every year. Having no leap day would mean that our calendar would be off by about 24 days in every 100 years.
Feb. 29th can also have an impact on families.
As a start, some couples may end up divorced because they married in a leap year, or at least that is what the ancient Greeks and Romans thought. Apparently, some modern Greeks continue to hold the belief that leap year marriages are destined to end in divorce.
Parenting plans for divorced couples can be affected by the leap year as well. For example, in 2019, both Christmas Day and New Year’s Day fell on a Wednesday. In the normal course of a parenting plan, a parent can usually expect those holidays to fall on a Thursday in the following year. This is because there are seven days in a week and 365 days in a year. While 365 doesn’t divide evenly by seven, 364 does. So fixed holidays generally move forward one day every regular year. However, in a leap year, there are 366 days instead of 365. Therefore, in leap years fixed date holidays will move forward by two days. In the context of divorce, this will only affect families whose parenting plans have fixed date holidays that are exercised in accordance with the regular parenting plan. Fixed date holidays include Christmas Eve and Day, New Year’s Eve and Day, the Fourth of July, and Halloween. So, if your parenting plan has the kids exercising the Fourth of July with whichever parent has regular parenting time that day, one parent may be expecting to get Fourth of July this year but instead the holiday bumps to the other parent because of the leap year. If this seems like it might be a problem for you, the easy fix is to design your parenting plan to include specific holiday parenting allocations instead of exercising holidays within the regular parenting plan.
Another issue that parents may not think about is the allocation of tax goodies related to the children. While the Dependent Exemption (largely unmeaningful since the passage of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act) and the Child Tax Credit may be allocated between parents using the Form 8332, eligibility for Head of Household status, the Dependent Care Credit and the Earned Income Credit is always allocated to the parent who has the most overnights with the children. In a leap year with 366 days, it is possible that both parties will have an even number of overnights with the kids. In that case, the allocation of the tax goodies goes to the parent with the higher income under federal law.
Finally, if you get married on leap day, you will only have to remember your anniversary once every four years. Food for thought.