Most of the country is in full holiday mode. While this is a season of happiness and joy for many families, it can be a season of stress and frustration for blended families and parents navigating a co-parenting plan for the first time. When newly divorced couples are faced with their first holiday season without their children, it can lead to problems for everyone involved. The best way to navigate the holiday season when sharing child custody with an ex-spouse is to develop a fair and equitable holiday sharing plan. It’s important to realize nothing will mirror the feeling of previous holidays pre-divorce, so managing your expectations is key.
If you and your ex-spouse are having problems with your current holiday custody schedule, here are some tips to get you over the hump:
- Shared Holidays: If your parenting plan includes an alternating holiday sharing schedule, you may find it’s easier on everyone if you share the holiday with your co-parent. Holiday sharing provides more stability and normalcy for minor children not yet ready to move on from longstanding traditions. Spending a holiday with each parent allows everyone to keep celebrations as close to previous holidays enjoyed before the divorce. Holidays like Christmas, Hannukah, and Thanksgiving can easily be shared if parents live in the same area. Standard arrangements typically give one parent mornings and the other afternoons. Parents can switch between morning or afternoon schedules per holiday or per year to create a fair and equitable experience for everyone.
- Annual Trade-Off: When parents don’t live near one another, it can be challenging to share each holiday. Many co-parents in this situation typically opt for an annual trade-off for each holiday. This model works well for parents who maybe have challenging work schedules that demand they work some on certain holidays. With this schedule, co-parents get maximum holiday time with their child, but the drawback is that they will not see their child for the holiday they received in the previous year.
- Set Holidays: Some families don’t celebrate certain holidays, so set holidays may be the ideal solution for these dates. If your family prefers Christmas, but you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, you could negotiate for every Christmas, and your co-parent would always get Thanksgiving. Big holidays are typically not as easy to set up this way, but holidays like Mother’s and Father’s Day can be set holidays that don’t change to ensure you spend the date with your child each year.
What If My Parental Rights are Being Denied?
Holidays can be a lonely time once you’re divorced, and it’s tempting for parents to refuse to follow their custody agreement during these times each year. It’s important to realize that refusing to adhere to your custody order during the holiday season could get you in trouble with the court. Withholding your co-parent’s parental visitation rights is a serious infraction and breaking a custody order is not a minor issue. If you have been denied your parental visitation rights, you can work with a family law attorney to file an enforcement order. You will need proof your co-parent has a habit of denying visitation.
Work with a Custody and Visitation Attorney
If you are contemplating a divorce, now is the time to work with a Philadelphia child custody and visitation attorney. An attorney can help you begin planning your custody agreement, which can simplify the process. Making a choice with the best interests of your child in mind means being fair. Establishing a visitation schedule acknowledging the difficulty of spending time alone during the holidays can be challenging. The attorneys at William Kirby, Family Law, are standing by, ready to help. Call us at (215) 515-9901 for help working through the details of your case.