Child Custody During the Holiday

During a divorce, child custody is a topic that is extremely difficult to come to terms with for some parents. Parents getting a divorce understand that their differences usually were not created because of the children in their household.

The difficulty of the situation comes in when a child custody attorney brings up the question of how the couple plans to handle child care after the divorce. One of the biggest issues in child custody revolves around who gets the kids during the holidays.

The ideal situation is to have your lawyer obtain a Temporary Order detailing the times and terms of the visitation when possible.

Absent a Court Order, arranging holiday visitation on your own does potentially expose you to some pitfalls as neither parent has legal priority of custody over the other parent so there is no obligation for your spouse to return your children at the end of his or her possession period. If circumstances require going into the holidays without an official Temporary Order it is a good idea to have the terms of the agreed visitation in writing with your spouse.

Ideally this written document would be done by or approved by your lawyer to insure it does not contain anything that could ultimately damage your case. Also, your lawyer can put this agreement in “Rule 11” form, which means that it can later be enforced by the court if need arises. Common arrangements for the holidays include some of these practices.

1. Cut the Day in Half

Holidays are important to families no matter what their current situation is. If you as parents truly cannot spend the holidays as a whole, consider cutting the holiday in half. Mom can have the kids in the morning, while Dad spends quality time with them in the evening.

This is a very civil way to approach the situation. However, it really only works if both parents are living in the same area or prior arrangements have been made.

2. Alternate the Holidays

If splitting the holidays in half is not the solution for your family, alternating the holidays is another fair option. By alternating the holidays every other year, even with the issue of child custody involved, you won’t feel like you are missing out on family festivities, and you can always plan your events ahead.

For example, one year, Mom gets Christmas and Dad gets Thanksgiving. The next year, Dad gets Christmas and Mom gets Thanksgiving.

3. Communicate

Even though you have already gone through the divorce through a family law attorney, your kids are still involved. Communication is always going to be key if you want to keep some normalcy in your kid’s lives. When you are making plans, remember the key word in the situation is ‘plan.’ Don’t spring your holiday ideas on your ex-spouse at the last minute, especially if it veers away from your previous arrangements.

Let the other parent know your plans ahead of time and your though process behind them. Keeping everyone in the loop during the holidays needs to be top priority with child custody involved.

4. Coordinate Gift Giving

Most children have a wish list during the holidays. Please resist the temptation to out-gift your ex-spouse during this time of the year. Get together briefly or have a quick phone call to discuss the wish list.

During this conversation, decide who will purchase what gift or how you both plan to split the cost of a big-ticket item.

Marx, Altman & Johnson Will Assist with Your Child Custody Needs

Marx, Altman & Johnson have been family law attorneys since 1992. We understand the difficulties of divorce and how child custody can be a complicated issue for both parents. We have the experience and compassion to help counsel you through this difficult time in your life.

If you are going through a divorce or are considering a divorce and have questions about child custody or a flat fee attorney, contact or family law firm today for more information on our services.