The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy and gratitude to be spent with family and friends, but they might not feel so joyful if you’re worried about whether or not you’ll spend time with your children. As festive and exciting as this time of the year can be, it can also be quite stressful and frustrating for parents who share custody of their children with their ex. If you and your ex share parenting responsibilities, you may be anticipating a difficult holiday season filled with visitation arguments and tug-of-war custody battles. However, finding a way to resolve these issues before they occur could save you a great deal of heartache and trouble later on.
Follow these key pieces of advice to make the most of your custody or visitation schedule this holiday season:
Make a Plan
The very best thing you can do to ensure that you have a chance to spend time with your children this holiday season is to plan ahead. Nail down any vacation details as soon as you can and think through a few schedule possibilities that could work for both you and your kids. Once you have a few potential plans in mind, try getting together with your co-parent to discuss a potential holiday plan.
Some people establish a set parenting schedule for the holiday season in their custody agreement, but that isn’t always the case. If your schedule isn’t already set in stone by the court, you should find the time to discuss your plan with your co-parent. If the two of you are able to be civil, try meeting in person at a coffee shop or some other neutral ground. If meeting in person won’t work out, try emailing one another to discuss your holiday plans.
There are several different holiday schedule possibilities out there, so try to be flexible as you and your ex try to find one that works for you. If spending time with your kids on Christmas Eve is particularly special to both of you, consider moving your holiday celebration to Christmas Day instead. It might be a bit of an adjustment, but if it means you get more time with your children and have fewer arguments with your ex, it might be worth it to start a new tradition.
Find Something That Works Long-Term
If you’ve been co-parenting for a while, you might be tired of playing this same old game every holiday season. To break the cycle, try thinking about ways you and your co-parent can find a long-term solution for your holiday schedule. There are several different types of holiday schedules out there for parents who share custody or have planned visitations, but it all depends on what works best for your family.
Consider what’s important to you and what’s important to your ex. Do you both celebrate the same holidays? Are there any annual traditions, vacations, or parties you attend? Think about these things as you create a schedule that could work year after year. Or, if it’s better for you, consider switching off each year. Instead of splitting Christmas Day each year, for example, maybe you can have the children for Christmas this year and your ex can spend next year with them.
Make Your Children the Priority
As difficult as it is to contend with your wishes and your ex’s, it is absolutely crucial to consider your children’s wants as well. The holidays are a magical time for kids, and it’s important for you to do what you can to make it memorable in all the right ways. You certainly don’t want to get your kids caught up in the middle of your custody or visitation spat, but you might consider asking them about their priorities. Do they have a favorite activity each year that they don’t want to miss out on? Are they excited to see a play with a friend from school on a day you had planned to take them to a holiday party? Ultimately, you are the parent and you will make the final decisions, but try to give your children a voice as well.
As much as these tips can help, sometimes going to court to reconfigure your parenting plan is the best solution. If you are dealing with a custody or visitation issue, or if your ex is refusing to follow existing court orders, our firm can help.
Contact Casey, Simmons & Bryant, PLLC to speak with our Jackson lawyers about your family law case.