Holidays are supposed to be a time of joy and celebration. However, in reality, they can be stressful times for everyone, including the children. Sharing custody of children can add additional stress for parents and kids alike, between planning visits, travel, family gatherings, and coordinating all this between two families. Maintaining a healthy dose of flexibility can go a long way towards making sure your kids can enjoy the spirit of the holidays.
In most separations, it is preferable for parents to come to a mutual agreement on how to handle shared custody. This allows the individuals who know their children best to determine child custody, including how to handle holidays. In the absence of custody agreements, the court decides issues of child custody, visitation rights, holidays, and vacations.
It is important for both parents to have a clear understanding and agreement of child custody for the upcoming holidays. Avoid making assumptions about holiday and visitation plans or assuming that whatever happened last year will be the same this year. Clear communication well ahead of time can prevent misunderstandings that could compromise holiday plans.
Child custody around the holidays may be a time for parents to get creative. Christmas does not have to be limited to one day and could be observed over a period of days, like Hanukkah or Kwanzaa. Thanksgiving could become a 4-day celebration of food and family.
From Thanksgiving on into the new year, parents with children have to balance a number of schedules, including school breaks, holidays, family visits, work time-off, and travel days. On top of this, any travel may involve unexpected problems such as weather delays or oversold flights. And of course, no holiday season is complete without a cold, stomach flu, food poisoning, or some combination of ailments.
Allowing for flexibility in holiday plans can help avoid disputes that can ruin the holidays for everyone and lead the parents back into family court. The focus of child custody should be on what is in the best interests of the children. This may mean compromising on plans and accepting that you may have to alternate major holidays.
It is important to remember that flexibility and compromise do not mean that you have to accept being taken advantage of. If the other parent is using the holidays as a tactic to take away your visitation rights, you may have to take your issues up with the judge. Talk to your family law attorney if the other parent is violating child custody orders or visitation agreements.
Jerkins Family Law
If you have questions about visitation rights or child custody agreements, please do not hesitate to call Jerkins Family Law for assistance. JFL is committed to providing the passionate representation you need. We know when to stand firm and when to be flexible in helping you achieve your desired outcome. Visit our dedicated child custody page and contact us today so we can guide you to a better solution.