The holidays are a cherished time of year since they afford the opportunity to enjoy time with family. However, if you are a divorced parent raising a child through a custody agreement, the holidays could be fraught with tension, resentment and anger regarding which parent gets to spend a specific amount of time, or a particular holiday, with their child.
Shared Visitation Is Important During the Holidays
Many courts prefer it if parents try to reach an amicable agreement on shared visitation and custody during the holiday season due to the importance of children getting to develop holiday traditions with each parent and members of their extended family.
Nevertheless, each custody arrangement is unique and will be influenced by your unique circumstances and situation. For example, shared visitation may be difficult during the holidays because one parent is traveling for work.
What To Consider When Creating a Visitation and Custody Arrangement for the Holidays
When you’re negotiating a holiday visitation and custody arrangement with your ex-spouse, it is important to incorporate any anticipated travel and school schedules. This is necessary because a problem could arise if, for example, you’ve reserved a winter cottage for a specific period of time during the holiday season, but are alerted by your ex-spouse that your child has a scheduling conflict with school, or another planned trip. Other factors you should consider when crafting a holiday visitation schedule typically includes the following:
- Your work schedule
- Your ex-spouse’s work schedule
- Whether your child is involved in any extracurricular activities that may require them to be at a certain location during the holidays
- Your religious practices and your spouse’s religious practices (if they are different)
- Holiday traditions that are especially enjoyed by your child, or children
- Length of travel time and travel costs involved with holiday celebrations
This is why you should be proactive and discuss holiday visitation and custody issues with your ex-spouse months in advance (such as in the summer or early fall). The sooner you have the discussion, the less likely you are to encounter a scheduling issue that could create unnecessary tension or frustration.
Ensure the Amount of Time in Your Custody Arrangement is Equitable
When developing a holiday visitation and custody arrangement, you need to ensure that the percentage of custody each parent will have is fair and reasonable. You should make sure you are getting a sufficient amount of actual time with your child, as opposed to potentially losing one or two days due to traveling from Point A to Point B.
Tips to Help Your Child in Adjusting to a Shared Custody and Visitation Arrangement During the Holidays
Each child responds to shared custody differently, particularly during the holidays. Some children are excited because they presume they are getting “two Christmas celebrations.” However, other children get upset or frustrated with having to pack up and spend time in two different locations with different loved ones. This is why it is important to discuss visitation schedules with your child well in advance of the actual holiday.
When you have this discussion with your child, it provides them with important information about what to expect during the holidays and gives them a sense of empowerment and buy-in regarding holiday plans. Here are some additional tips on how to discuss custody and visitation arrangements during the holidays:
- If possible, consider discussing the visitation schedules with the relatives your child, or children, who will be visiting during the holiday season. You should prepare your relatives for your child’s arrival and remind your relatives to be as warm and welcoming as possible.
- If travel is involved with your holiday plans, it is recommended to try and reduce the amount of baggage and to not over-plan for your trip. This is important because less packing and a reasonable set of activities reduces the risk of your child becoming stressed and exhausted.
- If there is a holiday where you will be without your child (e.g., you have an arrangement where your ex-spouse has custody for Thanksgiving and you have custody for Christmas), do not create unnecessary resentment or anger by making hurtful statements about your ex-spouse and their relatives. Remember, the holidays are a time of joy and you should do all that you can to ensure your child has a memorable and positive experience during the holiday season.
Have Questions? Contact an Experienced Novato Custody Lawyer Today
If you have questions about child custody and visitation during the holidays, contact Castro Law Offices today. Our Novato custody law firm stands ready to assist you in answering your questions and addressing your concerns. We are a premier law firm that focuses on divorce, child custody, and all other issues concerning California family law.
We are based in Novato, California, but are fully capable of helping clients throughout Marin County including Novato, San Rafael, Greenbrae, San Anselmo, Fairfax, Sausalito, Larkspur, West Marin, Ross, Mill Valley and Corte Madera. Contact Castro Law Offices today to schedule a confidential consultation.