Keeping the Peace:
Holiday Custody Battles 101
A child custody proceeding can be a lengthy affair even when the parties involved are relatively amicable towards each other. When they’re not so amicable, “lengthy” can quickly extend to a “War and Peace” level. And it’s not just the official legal proceedings that can drag on and on; once the court orders are made, there’s still the process of getting both you and your ex to go along with the new custody and visitation routine that has been decided on.
This routine often goes in for an extra layer of contention around the holidays. While your ex may have agreed last July that it would be okay for you to take both kids to your parents’ house for three days over Christmas, your ex might not be so sold on that plan as school vacation and travel approaches.
So, towards the end of keeping intact some of the peace and joy that ideally goes along with the holiday season, we have a few tips for smooth holiday custody transitions:
- Spell out in your custody arrangement what constitutes the “holiday” at issue. Is “Christmas” December 25th or is it the entire week including Christmas? Saying that one of you will have the kids on Christmas Eve and the other will have them on Christmas Day is a start, but even better is to specify what time of day the holiday begins and ends.
- Keep in mind, if any custody issues come up, that your ex is undoubtedly just as stressed out about holiday plans and travel arrangements as you are. He or she is not (necessarily, anyway!) out to ruin your holiday but may have legitimately forgotten or become confused about the custody plans.
- If you’re both open to alternatives to your current arrangement, consider out-of-the-box solutions to minimize the potential for conflict. For example, you could have the kids stay in one place and you and your ex could rotate so is there with them; less movement of the kids equals more simplicity, which might in turn equal less conflict.
- Last but not least, don’t forget to agree on what happens to any pets. Both of you may have been assuming that the dog goes with you when you visit your family, and without actually discussing the issue ahead of time, you’re setting yourself up for an unpleasant surprise. Get your expectations and wishes made known ahead of time.
Some pretty basic holiday visitation tips that might just help .