Child Custody: How to Get Fair Visitation During the Holidays

Holiday Visitation Should Not be a Nightmare after Divorce

Holidays can be a tough time for a newly restructured family. There are traditions you’ve created in holidays past that you want to keep up, there are (hopefully) two sets of parents who want equal time with the kids, there’s extended family who wants to be a part of the celebration, and there’s often the interest in creating new traditions. That’s a lot to pack into the 5 weekends between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, not to mention the shorter holidays of the year.

How do you handle everyone’s needs and ensure your interests are represented fairly?

It All Goes Back to the Visitation Schedule

This is why working with a seasoned family law practitioner is so important. Many times parents are concerned about the daily schedule and forget about the importance of the holidays until that time is upon them. Sadly, they’ve already agreed to a schedule. At that point, there’s not much that can be done other than ask the other parent in a very nice way and hope s/he feels the holiday spirit. If you haven’t finalized your visitation schedule here are a few ways to divide the holidays:

Every Other One

If you are an organized and patient person, you may like this idea. You and your ex alternate who has the holidays. For instance, Thanksgiving 2015 is your’s, Thanksgiving 2016 the children are at your ex’s home. If you go this route make sure you stipulate when the holiday begins and ends. If you have Christmas, does it start on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?

Keep in mind, even though you have the child(ren) on Thanksgiving that doesn’t mean they won’t ask to see your ex. You may end up sharing time because of a request your children make. This is not a slight on you. Holidays are a time for family, and your children may be missing their other parent.

Everyone Gets Something

This approach offers compromise. Someone gets Christmas Eve, someone gets Christmas morning/day. This is a good course of action for families that are steeped in tradition. If there’s a must attend gathering in your family, this approach may work for you.

Treat the Holidays the Same

Some couples decide to honor their “normal” visitation schedule regardless of holidays. If Christmas falls on a Wednesday and that’s the non-custodial parent’s day, so be it.

One thing to note, if you choose not to do it this way, and you have a separate holiday schedule, know that holiday visitation trumps regular visitation schedules.

Break up the Breaks

In the case of long holiday breaks, some parents divide them in half with one parent having the first half and one the second. This works nicely for parents who enjoy travelling during the holidays.

Whatever you decide works best for your family, none of it matters if you don’t have a visitation schedule or a parenting agreement worked out. The best way to work through holiday visitation schedules is during a time when it’s on your mind and not pressing up against you when you need to make critical vacation travel schedules. That kind of pressure often leads to frustration.

Work with a knowledgeable divorce attorney to set a schedule that fits your family.

Clearwater divorce attorney Dean Tsourakis can help you navigate the visitation options. Call him at today. The initial consultation is free.