Every parent wants to see as much of their child as possible, especially during the holidays. But divorce and separation can make this a challenge. Unfortunately, in far too many cases, parents squabble over visitation and custody during what should be the most enjoyable times of the year. It doesn’t have to be this way, however. A skilled family law attorney can advocate for your parental rights and help ensure you spend memorable holiday time with your child.
If you and the other parent are separated or divorced and have never formalized any sort of custody agreement, the time to act is now. Many parents believe they don’t need a parenting plan and can instead informally work out an agreement.
Developing a Holiday Custody and Visitation Plan
Failure to address holiday custody and visitation is a risk you don’t want to take. You and the other parent may have an informal arrangement. But at the very last minute, the other parent may change his or her mind. While you can certainly take your matter to court, you may not be able to see the judge until the holidays are over. Court is also time-consuming, costly, and stressful.
Developing a comprehensive parenting plan can avoid this. The best plan will account for both regular visitation and custody and for special times like holidays, birthdays, and vacations. With respect to holidays, these are just a couple of possible solutions that will make both parents happy:
Alternating holidays. Both parents want to spend time with the child during major holidays, but they may not agree on who should have which ones. One possible solution is to alternate holidays. With respect to Christmas, for example, the parents may agree to something like this:
- Christmas Eve – the child will stay with Parent A on Christmas Eve on even-numbered years (e.g. 2022), and with Parent B on odd-numbered years (e.g. 2021)
- Christmas Day – the child will stay with Parent B on Christmas Day on even-numbered years (e.g. 2022), and with Parent A on odd-numbered years (e.g. 2021)
Fixed holidays. You may simply want to always spend certain holidays with your child rather than alternate them. As an example, it could be simpler for one parent to always spend time with the child during Christmas, and the other to always spend time with the child during Easter.
This is especially desirable where one parent places more emphasis on one holiday and less on others. Or, where one parent is always working during a certain holiday and can’t spend time with the child anyway. In cases like these, a parent could be willing to give that time to the other parent in exchange for another holiday.
As you can readily see, there are innumerable ways for parents to share holiday time with their children. Some parenting plans will even include details like exchanging the child at a certain time of day (e.g. noon) so the child can see both parents during every holiday.
When Is Court Action Necessary?
But what if the other parent isn’t willing to negotiate? Worse, what if you and the other parent already have a plan (or court order) but the other parent is violating it?
This is where court action may be necessary. If custody has already been ordered or agreed upon and the other parent is violating the terms of that plan, he or she could be held in contempt. And if custody hasn’t yet been ordered, your lawyer will schedule a day in court. Remember, getting in front of a judge takes time, so it is important to reach out to an attorney as soon as it becomes clear the other parent won’t cooperate.
Parents deserve to make lasting memories with their children during the holidays. This isn’t always easy when there’s a divorce or separation. The Family Law team of SederLaw is ready to go to work for you and your child so the holidays remain special. Call today to schedule your confidential consultation.