The Christmas holiday is a time for peace, giving, and family. For the family aspect, it can be challenging if you are divorced and custody is shared between you and your ex. How is it possible to work things out each year so that each parent has quality time with the child without causing a full-blown World War III? Here are four tips to help you avoid disputes over child custody during Christmas break:
1. Split Things Up.
Sure, both parents want to spend the entire holiday with the child, but it just simply isn't fair for divorced families. Not for the other parent, and not for the child. Do what you can to split the holiday fairly. This may be allowing one parent Christmas Eve and the other parent Christmas Day this year, and vice versa next year. Or it could be splitting actual Christmas Day right down the middle so that each parent has quality time on the actual holiday. If you and your spouse come from two completely different faiths, such as Jewish and Christian, then split the holiday based on when your faith celebrates the holiday.
2. Always Get Changes in Writing.
Any time that you may an adjustment to your current visitation schedule, make sure that it is in writing. In fact, get it notarized if you can. This ensures that there is a paper trail in the event that there is a misunderstanding later down the road or the other parent decides to try to pull something (like keeping the child without permission).
3. Compromise, Compromise and Compromise.
Don't expect to get something if you aren't willing to give something else in return. For example, if something comes up and you would like to keep your child an extra couple of days, touch base with your ex and talk to him or her about it. Explain the situation and offer one of your holidays or extra time over the summer.
4. Start Planning Early.
Ultimately, one of the best things that you can do is to start planning the holiday season early in the year when emotions aren't running at full-speed. Maybe try planning your holiday vacation in September or October. This gives two to three months for planning and negotiations with your ex, if necessary. As soon as you have your plans completed, make sure to share them with the other parent. This allows them to make their own arrangements around your plans.
If you run into serious problems with child custody during the holidays that you can't seem to resolve on your own, speak to a family law attorney. It may be possible to get a court order for a modification to the visitation arrangement, or something more severe, if it is deemed necessary.