Divorcing couples need a solid parenting plan to set them up for successful co-parenting. Unfortunately, many couples who handle their own divorces rush when drafting their parenting plan, and as a result they end up getting into many fights—especially during the holidays.
At Hargrave Law, PC, we have deep experience creating a parenting plan that works for all divorcing couples. We can also help our clients strategize ways to avoid conflict when they need to depart from the parenting plan. Contact a Fort Worth child custody lawyer to learn more.
Deciding How to Split Holidays
Most parents want to see their children during the holidays, so there is always a dispute about how to “divide” the holidays. Some common options include:
- Alternating between parents every other year. For example, the kids might have the holidays with Mom on even numbered years and with Dad on odd-numbered years.
- Splitting up the holidays every year. For example, Mom might have the kids for Thanksgiving, but Dad gets them for Christmas. The next year, the parents can alternate which holiday they have.
- Spending the holidays with both. For example, the children might spend Christmas morning with Mom and then go to Dad’s house for the afternoon and evening.
Think carefully before choosing an option. If you do not live close to your ex, then the third option is unrealistic. The children can’t spend all day on the road. Likewise, if you live far away, then it is unlikely the children can spend both Thanksgiving and Christmas with you in the same year, as these holidays fall only four weeks apart, and the children have school in between.
Also remember to be detailed. If you are splitting Christmas day, you want crystal-clear handoff times. If you want your children in your possession no later than 3:30 p.m., state that in the parenting plan. If you don’t, then you are leaving it up to your ex to get the children to you in a timely manner.
Preparing for Unforeseen Events
A good parenting plan anticipates that events might not go as planned. For example, poor weather might make it hard to transport the children, or one of them might become sick. A sick child should not be traveling, but this means that Mom or Dad does not get to see their child on the assigned holiday.
In our experience, we like to include provisions that spell out exactly what will happen in the event a holiday visit gets cancelled. For example, the children might spend more time later in the year with this parent.
Keeping in Contact
You might not get to see your children during the holidays. For example, work might keep you on the road, or it isn’t feasible for the kids to come out to your place. Still, you want to stay in contact, so you probably want a phone call or a Skype chat.
We encourage parents to include these provisions in their parenting plans. The holidays are hectic, and the other parent might forget to have the children talk to you during the holidays. Including these provisions is a good way to hammer home that you want to talk to your children. You can also point to the parenting plan to remind your ex as the holidays approach about when you intend to call.
Even the most detailed plan can’t preempt all disagreement between parents. Often, our clients work best when they have a measure of flexibility. Admittedly, this is easier when parents live fairly close together.
As the holidays approach, call your ex ahead of time to discuss your plans. You can iron out any disagreements at that time. Remember, a little give and take can work wonders—and it’s keeping with the holiday spirit.
Contact a Texas Child Custody Attorney Today