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Families that no longer reside in the same household can sometimes encounter conflict over holiday visitation schedules. No matter what your family’s traditions are, it’s important to ensure that you and the other parent both get adequate time with your children during the holiday season.
While most divorced couples abide by a regular weekly visitation schedule, that schedule may sometimes need to be altered for holidays, birthdays, and vacations. To minimize potential conflicts, it’s essential to agree on a holiday visitation schedule well ahead of time and be flexible if one parent requests a change.
Whether you and the other parent drafted a parenting agreement during divorce proceedings or the court ordered a specific visitation arrangement, you can look to your parenting agreement or court order to help you set up a baseline holiday schedule that gives each parent ample time with their children. Many parenting agreements or court orders outline what holiday visitation schedules will look like.
Some parents may agree to a schedule that lets one parent have the children for the entire break on even numbered years, and the other parent gets the children for the entire break on odd numbered years. Other families might decide that splitting the holiday evenly each year is preferable. That way, each parent gets to spend part of the holiday with their children every year.
While your parenting agreement or court order may outline a typical holiday schedule to prevent disputes between former spouses, that doesn’t mean that parents won’t sometimes want to alter the schedule on a case-by-case basis. For instance, what if one parent has planned a vacation with the kids that cuts into the other parent’s parenting time?
The best thing that two parents can do is try to compromise when situations like this arise. If you’re going to alter the schedule, try to ensure that it is fair to everyone involved. If the other parent requests that you give up a day of your parenting time, perhaps they can offer you a day of their parenting time in return. Being flexible but fair is the best way to avoid potential conflicts.
Even though it may create potential conflict, you do have a right to say no if you disagree with a schedule change. You can always refer back to the holiday visitation schedule initially agreed upon by both parents or ordered by the court. Legally speaking, there isn’t much that you or your ex can do if you set a specific holiday visitation schedule in your parenting plan and one of you refuses to alter it.
If you disagree with a change your ex wants to make to the schedule, you can say no. Still, you should try to be flexible when you can. If you’re going to make a schedule change at some point in the future, it might be harder for you to accomplish if you aren’t flexible with your ex or willing to compromise on occasion.
If you are negotiating a change in the regular holiday visitation schedule, don’t involve your children in the discussion, particularly if a dispute occurs. Involving your children in discussions effectively forces them to choose who they want to spend time with, and that is not a burden they should have to bear. Discuss the schedule change calmly with your ex and try to resolve it without involving your kids.
Every parent wants to enjoy spending time with their children over the holidays, but when parents don’t live under the same roof, schedule changes can cause disputes. Hopefully, you and your ex can resolve any potential conflicts between you. If you need the advice of an experienced Hampton roads custody lawyer, or if you have questions about setting up or altering a holiday visitation schedule, the attorneys at Invictus Law can help. Contact us today for a consultation.