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Child Custody Tips for the Holidays

The holidays can be difficult to navigate for divorced parents. Both parents will likely (and understandably) want to have time to spend with their children over the holidays, but time is a limited commodity and the logistics of transferring children back and forth can be difficult.

Here are a few child custody tips to keep in mind for the upcoming holiday season.

  • Start your planning early: You should try to make plans a couple months in advance, or at least start the conversations then so you and the other parent can both get on the same page. Starting your plans early is a good way to avoid arguments as the holidays get closer.
  • Understand the legal parameters: You might already have agreed to some holiday-related custody issues as part of your court-approved child custody plan. If your plan includes holiday parenting time, make sure you honor those times unless there is a written confirmation that you both agreed to change the days/times in the agreement.
  • Find ways to share: Whenever possible, find ways to share the important holidays. It might involve a couple celebrations on the same day. You could also find different days on which each side celebrates the holidays, or switch off certain holidays each year. Whatever arrangement you choose, make sure you communicate about this well in advance and stick to whatever decisions you make. It is imperative that you follow the times that are in an agreement or Court Order.
  • Consider travel time: If it takes a long time to travel between holiday celebrations, this could make it difficult for you to split holidays on the actual day. Be prepared for any transportation-related challenges that could arise, and plan around them whenever possible. The fact that there is traffic is not a reason to extend your time on a holiday.  You must take that into account when planning your time on that particular holiday.
  • Have consistent expectations with gift giving: For Christmas especially, you should both be on the same page about gift giving to children. Communicate in advance about gift giving, and see if you can work together to purchase an expensive gift or a particularly special gift.  You also do not want to have duplicative gifts for a child which may lead to disappointment.

For more information about how to handle the holidays with shared custody, contact an experienced divorce attorney at Jakubowski, Robertson, Maffei, Goldsmith & Tartaglia LLP.