How to Cope With Common Child Custody Issues over the Holidays

Creating a schedule for parenting time or visitation is often part of cases determining child custody. In cases of joint custody, children may spend equal time in each parent’s household, or time may be split unevenly based on the arrangement set by parents or by the court. Even a parent that obtains sole custody may have to allow for a limited schedule of visitation with the other parent, so that children have the opportunity to continue a relationship with both parents.

Some parents maintain an amicable relationship that allows them to set their own parenting time, while others have a contentious relationship that leaves the court to create a rigid schedule for parenting time or visitation. In either case, determining custody over the holidays can be particularly difficult, for both parents and children. How can you cope with these issues and ensure that everyone enjoys various holidays with children? Here are a few strategies to try.

Split Holidays
Generally speaking, schedules for parenting time will involve splitting holidays. If a family celebrates Christmas, for example, children may spend Christmas Eve at the mother’s house and Christmas day at the father’s house. The following year, the schedule will swap so that the father has the kids Christmas Eve and the mother has them Christmas Day.

Again, parents that remain amicable may be able to work out their own schedule. For example, one parent may place more value on Christmas Eve while the other prefers to celebrate Christmas day. In this case, parents could set up the same schedule annually instead of swapping.

Parents might also elect to alternate holidays. One parent could have kids for Thanksgiving and Easter while the other has them for Christmas. The following year, they could swap so that the other parent gets kids on Christmas. If at all possible, parents should try to come to an arrangement that works best for them and their children. Otherwise, the courts will be forced to set a schedule for parenting time that everyone must abide by.

Keep Kids in Mind
Sadly, determining shared custody over the holidays can often devolve into arguments about what is fair, and this can be detrimental to the children involved. Shuttling kids back and forth between households so that parents can get fair and equal time might not be very fun for children. It’s always best to consider the impact a holiday schedule will have on kids, and to try to make the schedule and the transitions as easy as possible. After all, you want your kids to enjoy the holidays, no matter which parent they’re with.

For this reason, it’s best to determine parenting time well in advance and keep children apprised of the plan. It’s really not fair to kids to make changes up until the last minute and then force them to rush to get ready. This can be very upsetting. Instead, give kids plenty of notice so that they can relax and enjoy the holidays with both parents.

If you’re going through a child custody case or having trouble arranging parenting time, contact the expert attorneys at The Gucciardo Law Firm at 248-723-5190 for legal advice and assistance.

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