For most of us, the holidays are an exciting opportunity to perhaps take some time off and make memories with friends, family, and love ones. However, for co-parents engaged in a child custody arrangement, the holidays can also be uniquely stressful. Today, we're handing out some tips and tricks for how you can navigate the holidays more easily with your co-parent.
Deciding How to Divvy Up the Holidays
The most complex (and often, most contentious) dispute for co-parents during the holidays is deciding how much time each parent should get with their child.
Obviously, this depends on your custody arrangement to an extent. If you've got sole or majority custody, you don't need to let your co-parent spend half of every holiday with your child. However, if you have joint or equal custody, you have three primary options:
- Spend the holidays together as a family. If you're on good terms with your co-parent, you can choose to simply spend the holidays together with your child. If you both have partners and they're comfortable with it, they can also come along. This is a good option for amicable co-parents, since it maximizes the time the child spends with each parent.
- Split the holidays. You can split the holidays, so (for example) you get your child for the first half of Christmas day up to lunch, and your co-parent gets them from lunch onwards. This can be a little awkward and lead to some tension if both parents want to spend more time with the child, but it's a good alternative if you both want to spend every holiday with them.
- Switch off on specific holidays. Your last option is to give each parent specific holidays. For example, you get to have custody of your child for Thanksgiving and New Year's, so long as your co-parent gets them for Christmas. This option gives your child a bit more stability than splitting every holiday in half, and can also help you avoid conflict with your co-parent.
You should integrate how you choose to handle the holidays into your parenting plan to make it legally binding. Doing so ensures that the holiday custody arrangement remains stable over the years, reducing stress for everyone involved.
Talk with Your Child About what They Want
Your child will have a significant amount of time off school, and they'll probably want to spend that time doing things with each of you (like going skiing or on vacation somewhere). Talking with your child about their plans for the break can help you and your co-parent schedule your vacations around one another.
Knowing what your child wants can also help you prioritize what gifts you each give your child.
The More You Plan in Advance, the Better
You'll need to answer a lot of questions over the holidays, including:
- How you'll handle childcare over the holidays. If you both work full-time, it may be difficult to care for your child over the holidays. Agreeing on a childcare facility to use can help you get a better price and avoid stressing out about childcare over the holidays.
- Parent-teacher meetings. Most schools host parent-teach meetings over the holidays, so you should talk about which parent will attend them (or whether you both should).
- Whether (and when) you'll take time off work. Many people try and take time off work during the holidays. Staggering when you and your co-parent take time off work can help you each spend more time with your child and stagger your vacations.
At DeTommaso Law Group, we can help you navigate a custody dispute or modify an existing child custody order.
To schedule a consultation with our team and receive the legal counsel you deserve, contact us online or via phone at (908) 274-3028.