Child custody and visitation may pose difficult problems throughout the year, but the holidays pose additional complications.
Planning and consideration can avoid stress and hurt feelings. Preparing for co-parenting during the holidays may also avoid trips to a family law judge.
Most importantly, the children and their happiness come first. Avoid arguments and encourage the children to spend time with their other parent. Do not criticize your former spouse and their family in front of your children.
Once you set a schedule, be sure to follow it. Respect your spouse’s plans, even if they appear uninteresting.
Carefully review your custody agreement well before the holidays. Confer with your spouse, and make any needed adjustments if changes are needed in the holiday schedule or a matter is not addressed.
Both spouses should speak to their children together before the holidays. Seek their input on plans. Assure them that the holidays will be enjoyable even if events and plans are different than before the divorce.
Divide events evenly
Agree on a fair division of time. It can be done by years, days, allowing one family to spend time with the children on Christmas Eve and time with the other family on Christmas Day, or any other schedule that is fair and enjoyable.
Try to be flexible and allow the children to attend events or enjoy traditions that are important to them or your spouse’s family.
Take advantage of time that you are not with your children by enjoying alone time or spending time with friends.
Try a new activity that was not done before. Find new shows or activities that can become new annual traditions. Ask your children for ideas and coordinate this with their other parent.
Parents should coordinate their gift-giving to set price limits and avoid duplicating presents and overlooking items. Do not try to outdo their other parent by buying extravagant gifts.
The holiday season is not the time to present a new relationship or significant other upon the children. Children look forward to spending time with their parent and not a new relationship. Unless that person already has a relationship with your children, do not have them spend vacation time with them.
Attorneys can assist spouses with seeking a fair and reasonable custody agreement that is in the children’s best interest. They can also help parents deal with legal issues that arise.