(US family law and generally) The holiday season can be stressful and hectic for anyone. Whenever co-parents need to deal with child visitation issues during the holidays, the stress can be heightened if they don’t prepare or agree ahead of time.
Parenting plans generally outline how visits and holidays will be split between co-parents. The visitation schedule for parents with joint custody may typically alternate where the child spends each holiday and weekend. However, there are several factors that can complicate the seemingly simple plan of switching back and forth for every calendar holiday. One parent may hold the religious aspect of a holiday in much higher regards than the other, but that alone should not affect the amount of time a non-religious parent gets to spend with a child. Parents may even disagree over how long a child spends with the other during the holiday, such as whether one parent should have Christmas Eve and Christmas day. A parent’s work schedule may also interfere with how they may be able to celebrate with the child or their ability to meet for a drop off time. One parent’s finances may affect the ability to travel or commit to a means of travel for visits during the holidays. These issues and other complications for holiday visits can be as unique as the family involved.
There are tips for parents who want to off-set any visitation issues during the holidays. Parents may find it helpful to sit down and outline what times, dates, holidays, or family celebrations they would categorize as most important long before necessary. They can even email a calendar back and forth to help streamline the process of figuring out a plan. This may help both parents find room to maneuver and adjust their own plans way before the actual holiday. Parents can also involve extended family in drop offs if work schedules or finances make it difficult for them to handle it alone. Discussing finances before travel plans are made can help both parents prepare ahead of time. One option many parents seem to find best for the child is if they can carve out time where both parents can take part in a tradition or celebration. One example is for the parent who doesn’t have Christmas morning visitation to still be invited to stop by when presents are being opened just to be there for the child. Technology can also help so the child can involve the other parent through Skype or other means.
Holiday visit schedules may require some level of creativity and compromise. However, if an attempt to iron out details or make any adjustments is unsuccessful, a court modification may be the only option left. Contacting an experienced divorce attorney may clear up any lingering concerns. Legal intervention can help parents solve holiday visitation problems when an attempt to discuss changes or modifications doesn’t generate the solutions. However, there must be a genuine concern or argument for change to justify court intervention. Simply not wanting the child to be with the other parent to avoid hurt feelings or loneliness will not suffice. When both parents keep their eye on the goal of making each holiday the best it can be for the child, than any compromise or decision making is bound to work out in the best interest of everyone involved more often than not.