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Famliy Law Blog

Splitting Holidays in Divorce

Published on Nov 19, 2018  |  in child custody,divorce

Divorced parents who share custody of their children generally develop visitation or custody arrangements in the best interests of the children. The court has a duty to rule in favor of the children’s best interests in any divorce case. Some parents live close enough that they can share custody with a regular schedule with relative ease. Other divorcing couples may move to different parts of a state or to other states, making visitation more difficult.

Our Austin child custody attorneys know the holidays are one of the most common areas of contention in divorce settlements. Parents may hate the thought of spending a major holiday without custody, but the court generally helps develop a custody schedule that works for both parents. Divorcing and divorced parents should know what to expect from custody negotiations and how to handle custody issues around major holidays.

Developing a Schedule in Advance

Some couples divorce for specific reasons like infidelity or financial disagreements. Others simply agree their marriages are no longer worth the trouble to fix. Regardless of the reasons why a divorce arises, the divorced couple should put their personal feelings aside when it comes to the best interests of their children. One parent may receive more custody than the other for several reasons. A judge may not want to disrupt a child’s schooling or social life, or one parent may have a history of substance abuse or criminal activity that may endanger the child.

Whatever the case may be, one parent may wind up with custody for the majority of the year. The other may get weekends, summers, or the custody falls into some other arrangement. If it is not possible for the children of a divorced couple to spend every major holiday with each parent, the parents must develop a system for handling the holidays. Generally, the parents will switch off every other holiday. For example, if both parents want to spend Christmas with their kids but they live too far apart for this to be possible, each parent will likely have custody every other year.

Handling Custody Disagreements

It’s very important to abide by the terms of your child custody agreement. Many unpredictable factors can complicate a custody schedule, and some co-parents will successfully resolve these issues as they arise. For example, if it is one parent’s turn for custody during Christmas, but he or she is in the hospital or otherwise unable to take custody, the parents may agree for the indisposed parent to take custody for the next two Christmases to make up for the lost one.

It is never wise to assume that your co-parent will be okay with a sudden schedule change or request for a custody rearrangement. It is best to discuss these issues as soon as they arise. While co-parents can develop balanced and detailed custody agreements upon divorcing, there is no way to predict future events that may interfere with a predetermined custody schedule.

Preventing Custody Issues Around the Holidays

The holidays are generally hectic for everyone. Custody issues can compound the stress of an already stressful time of year. If you and an ex-spouse have a custody agreement for the holidays, it’s important to honor that agreement. Propose any necessary changes as far in advance as possible to avoid conflicts.

If you encounter an issue with your ex or believe that he or she has violated your existing child custody agreement or poses a risk to your children, an experienced Austin family law attorney can help you assess your situation and determine the best available remedies. Ultimately, divorced parents can avoid a lot of stress over child custody during the holidays by putting personal feelings aside and focusing on what is best for their children.