Surviving the Holiday Season: A Guide to Handling Custody Issues
Child custody schedules are always difficult to navigate, but they can become especially hard around the holidays. The time between Thanksgiving and the New Year can be extremely busy with family obligations and religious or cultural celebrations that you want your kids to be part of. If you share custody, however, things can get complicated. Between negotiating schedules that involve seeing aunts, uncles, or grandparents and arranging for transportation, the logistic of shared custody around the holidays can be a nightmare – and fertile ground for a serious dispute.
In an ideal world, if you are a parent who shares custody of your children, you already have a plan in place that you and your spouse agree on regarding how to spend the holidays. If you do not, however, it is a good idea to address the matter now and come to an agreement with your child’s other parent. In addition, moving forward, it is highly advisable to come to a formal agreement that is incorporated into your custody agreement so that everyone involved is on the same page.
One way that you can handle custody around the holiday season is by deciding that one parent will have custody for one holiday, but the other parent will have custody for the other holiday. For example, if your child’s other parent has custody during Thanksgiving weekend, you will have custody for Christmas, Hanukkah, or any other winter holiday you celebrate.
Another option is to decide that the children spend certain holidays with one parent and other holidays with the other parent. This works well when parents come from different traditions. For example, if one parent celebrates Christmas and the other parent celebrates Hanukkah, it may make the most sense to simply decide that the kids are always with the parent who celebrates that holiday.
Similarly, this arrangement works well when one parent has a strong priority for a given holiday. For instance, suppose your child’s other parent has a long-standing tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving with his or her extended family in his or her hometown. In a case like this, it may be best to agree that your child’s other parent can have custody for the foreseeable Thanksgivings, and you will have custody for the foreseeable Hanukkahs.
In some cases, you may be able to split the holiday itself with your child’s other parent. For example, the children could have Christmas Eve at Mom’s and Christmas morning at Dad’s. The fact that Hanukkah lasts for eight days makes it an excellent candidate for holiday splitting between households. Of course, splitting holidays in this way requires parents to live at least fairly close to one another to make it logistically possible.
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If you have legal issues related to child custody or any other family law matter, you should speak to a lawyer as soon as you can. Attorney Lisa Zeiderman is an experienced family law attorney who understands how to get her clients the best possible outcomes in issues related to divorce, child custody, and other matters. To schedule a consultation with Lisa Zeiderman, call our office today.