Holiday Custody and Visitation

The holidays are around the corner, which means that our office will soon be buzzing as we work to figure out everyone’s holiday custody and visitation schedules.

Most of the year, custody and visitation (at least, for most people) is handled relatively quickly and easily.  With the holidays in full view, however, all bets are off, especially where custody and visitation are concerned.  From late October through December, we have more and more fights over custody and visitation.

I understand why.  It’s hard enough for parents to face divorce on a normal Thursday night.  It’s even harder to imagine being in the middle of a divorce, when that Thursday night is the the fourth Thursday in November, without even your children to keep your mind off of your marriage while everything is pending.  You’ve established traditions and, for the last several years at least, you’ve known ahead of time exactly what your holiday would look like.  Whether you traveled or stayed around your home town, you knew which relatives you’d visit, what food you would eat, and where your children would be.

The prospect of facing your first major holiday alone is daunting, and it’s tempting to do everything within your power to ensure that your children will spend the time with you.

Still, it’s important to think about your behavior now, and how it can affect what you want in the future—both with respect to custody and visitation, and also as it relates to the entire rest of your divorce.  Remember that you’re laying the groundwork now for how things are going to work later on, and flexibility will generally help you a whole lot more than rigidity.

At some point, both you and your child’s father are going to have to spend a major holiday without the children, and you should be prepared.  Just know that, if you make holiday custody and visitation schedules an issue, you can expect that your child’s father will, too.

A lot of times, when parents and extended family live locally, former spouses find it (maybe not easy, but) possible to exchange the children either during the day on the holiday, or at least very soon thereafter, so that both parents end up spending time with the children during valuable holiday time.  If travel is necessary to visit extended family, flexibility may not be quite as easy, but if you lay the groundwork now for cooperation, you’ll likely be much more pleased with the custody and visitation arrangements later on.

If you expect cooperation from your child’s father when it’s your turn, be sure you extend the courtesy when it’s his turn—even if that turn just so happens to fall on Thanksgiving, or, worse—Christmas.

If you need help coming up with a custody and visitation arrangement, or if you’re having trouble figuring out what to do with the children during the holidays, give our office a call at (757) 785-9761.  We can help give you pointers for custody and visitation arrangements that work, and make sure to keep your divorce running smoothly.

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