The holidays are known for being the time of year families come together and spend extra quality time and make memories with one another. Unfortunately, for separated or divorced parents, the holidays can become a bit more complicated time of year. Child custody issues can arise at any time, but when holidays, travel, and extended family come into the picture, those issues can become even harder to deal with. Seasonal traditions carry lots of emotional value and they must be adjusted to accommodate both parents’ agendas. Even for co-parenting pros that work wonderfully together, this can bring about an emotional weight that can make the holidays a bit taxing. We are going to provide a few tips to avoid miscommunication and conflict to help you keep the focus on the family this holiday season.
Create a holiday schedule and plan ahead of time
This seems so obvious and simple, but a surprising amount of separated or divorced parents do not have a set holiday schedule and end up having unnecessary issues due to planning conflicts. An annual schedule should be planned and both parties must be on board and willing to stick to the plan. If not, a custody or court order for visitation should be set in place to ensure both parents get family time. Some holidays may mean more to one parent than the other and this should be communicated up front. The holidays alone take considerable preparation, so it is very important that co-parents create a clear schedule for all holidays in advance.
Communicate your plan to everyone involved
The holidays, especially for families that celebrate Christmas and New Year’s, are an extremely exciting time for children. It is important to help them understand the schedule in advance, so they are not caught off guard.
It’s also important to communicate your comprehensive schedule with other family members involved. If you have family traveling from out of town for a holiday, plan to celebrate accordingly when the children can be involved. However your family chooses to accommodate your arrangements, communication is key.
Life happens, and plans can change. If you are running a little behind in travel, or if that Thanksgiving meal is not quite ready yet, communicate with the other parent as soon as possible. Although this can be frustrating on the receiving end, try to be understanding. The way you respond is likely the response you will receive the next time you are in the same situation. Try to work with your co-parent and go with the flow to keep the children happy. Be willing to adjust your schedule if possible. If you have a custody order, keep in mind that there could be consequences to neglecting your agreed upon schedule.
If you are having trouble making or modifying a child custody plan this holiday season, contact Emily Latiolais, your local custody attorney.