How to Avoid Emergency Custody Issues This Holiday Season
The holiday season is stressful enough without having to worry about unexpected custody issues arising. Due to the importance of holidays in our lives, it is very easy for emotions to get high when it comes to determining where children will spend the day or evening. Here are some tips you can use to help you avoid custody issues during the holidays.
Are Holidays in the Court Order?
In many cases, holidays and other special days are spelled out in the court order. If they are, it is important that all involved follow that order. If there is any confusion, it is important to resolve those problems before the holidays.
Holidays Not in the Court Order?
Sometimes holidays and other important dates are not in a court order. If this is the case for you, your options are to go back to court or to see if you can work it out on your own. In the long run, it is best if you can work through holiday custody matters on your own. Doing so will save you both time and money. Here is a technique that works well for setting the holiday custody schedule:
Create a List
Each parent should create a written list of the days that matter to them, in order of importance.
Compare the List
Look through the list, and divide up the days that are easy and comparable.
Fairly Divide the Rest
There will be holidays that cross, so plan to alternate those holidays or important days by year. Also, make certain that each spouse gets a fair number of those important dates each year. For example, one year a spouse gets the child’s birthday while the other spouse gets Christmas or another equally important date. Then switch the following year. If you live near each other, consider splitting the holiday. For example, the child spends the morning with one parent and the evening with the other.
Don’t be afraid to be creative. The only limitations are what works for you and the children’s educational schedule. For example, perhaps one parent can have the children for all of Christmas, but the other parent gets the children for a few extra days at another time. The goal is to be fair and focus on what is best for the children.
Keep a Physical Calendar
Create a physical calendar. Hang it up where your child/children can see it. Make sure everyone gets the same calendar with the exact same dates. That way there can be no disputes later.
Use a Mediator
If you cannot work out a custody schedule, consider using a mediator to help you. A mediator can simply be a mutually trustworthy friend, or if you don’t want to put a friend in the middle, professional mediators are available.
Can You Be Together?
If you get along well enough that you can share any holidays with each other, consider doing so. This may be impossible, but sometimes, families can be together for the sake of the children. And in time, through cooperative co-parenting, the extended families can even enjoy being together.
Follow the Schedule
Once you create a schedule, it is important that you keep it. Make certain that you are on time to drop off or pick up the children. Be respectful of the time and plans of the other parent. If a problem does arise, work together to try to fairly resolve it, well in advance of the date in question. If a legitimate emergency occurs, do your best to be accommodating to the other parent.
Sometimes, children may resist going to the other parent’s house. Remember, it is your job to make certain that you enforce the agreement. Prepare the children ahead of time with the calendar and by letting them know the plans. Don’t be afraid to talk to your children about why they are resistant, but remember, it is your obligation to follow court orders and other agreements.
One way to help avoid resistance is to let the children be involved. Give them things they can do around both parents’ homes to participate. That may include letting them help cook, decorate, or go shopping. If the children are old enough, consider involving them in creating the calendar each year.
Keep the Holidays Happy
In the end, your goal is to help your children have happy holidays and a healthy relationship with both of their parents. Creating a holiday schedule well in advance, making certain that it is kept in a visible place, and being respectful of each other is key to avoiding custody issues during the holiday season.
We wish you a happy, healthy holiday season. If problems do arise for you, feel free to reach out to our custody attorneys for assistance.