Child custody is one of the hardest aspects of co-parenting, particularly when it comes to determining with whom the child in question will spend the holidays. While the holiday season is supposed to be the happiest time of the year, for people and children facing this problem, stress and anxiety can easily replace any form of holiday joy. However, there is a way to navigate the issue of child custody during the holidays so you can focus on enjoying the holiday season — no matter what stage of divorce you are in.
Sorting Out Child Custody and Holiday Visitation
If you have not told your soon-to-be ex-spouse of your desire for a divorce and are only contemplating it, you may be wondering if there is any way to spend the holidays apart this year. The short answer? Yes. Sadly, the long answer is that there are many things to consider when you plan to ask for a divorce during the holiday season. A good piece of advice to remember is to be willing to compromise when it comes to plans this year; this will help set the standard for how your divorce proceedings will go from here on out.
Some couples who decide on divorce during the holidays make the decision to wait until after the holidays are over to tell their children. On the other hand, some parents will let their children know they are in the middle of a divorce and attempt to approach custody on their own until they develop a formal visitation plan. Typically, this involves splitting holidays or rescheduling and moving around celebrations.
Take for example a holiday like Christmas. Divorcing parents often work out a compromise in which their children spend Christmas Eve with one parent and Christmas Day with the other. If this appeals to you, you can also split up family traditions evenly between the two of you so your children can still have the same holiday fun they do every year, even if it means the household will be different going forward.
What to Do When Conflict Arises
While an amicable divorce is ideal, divorces are of a very personal nature and can get ugly between even the most accommodating of people. If a conflict comes into the mix, it is advisable to work with a divorce attorney who can assist in remedying such conflict and refer to Utah’s visitation guidelines, which the state created in the best interests of the children of divorcing parents. Legal professionals often get a bad rap in the movies, but in reality, they can act as a compassionate mediator between divorcing parents to help sort out a visitation schedule and prevent any additional conflict from arising.
How to Set Up a Child Custody Holiday Schedule
When planning a formal, long-term holiday visitation schedule, divorcing parents will need to consider the following:
- What religious holidays will your child celebrate?
This should be considered in relation to which religious holidays you and your ex-spouse celebrate. If you both celebrate the same holidays, then you may opt to switch off every other year as the state guidelines suggest. If you and your ex-spouse celebrate different holidays (for instance, you celebrate Hannukkah while they celebrate Christmas), then you can make a plan with these two holidays in mind.
- Do you and your ex-spouse care about other holidays, such as bank holidays?
Utah guidelines split up these holidays so parents have equal time with their children. While it may not seem like that big of a deal at first, many children have school off on these holidays, and if you have work off as well, that is valuable parent-child time you could be enjoying.
- Who will the child spend school breaks with?
Consider summer and winter breaks and how these will work in relation to your other obligations and preferences, as well as those of your ex-spouse. Perhaps you prefer summer breaks to take your children to a family lakehouse while your ex-spouse places more importance on family ski trips over winter breaks.
- What about birthday celebrations?
Who will get to spend the child’s actual birthday with them? Will you switch off every year or always celebrate together? These are important things to consider so it does not come up later and cause conflict. A birthday is supposed to be about the child, after all. In the same vein, do you want the child to spend the day of your birthday with you or does the weekend suffice?
About the Utah Visitation Guidelines
As mentioned, the state of Utah has visitation guidelines to help divorcing parents come to a state-sanctioned compromise in which holidays are split between divorcing parents by even- and odd-numbered years. These visitation schedules can be beneficial not only to divorcing parents who want fair custody of their children but also to the children who want stability concerning the holidays and which parent they will be spending them with.
Our attorneys at Pearson Butler cannot stress the importance of establishing a holiday child custody and visitation schedule enough. With the help of a visitation schedule, both parents will be able to spend a fair amount of time with their children without having to worry about what will happen when the next holiday comes around: It will all be laid out in your formal parent-time plan.
Need Help with Child Custody?
At Pearson Butler, we have helped countless legally separated and divorced parents sort out custody issues. Our firm takes a compassionate and comprehensive approach to divorce and family law, handling issues promptly and efficiently to help divorcing parents and their children smoothly transition to this next stage of their lives. For legal assistance, reach out to our attorneys online or at (800) 265-2314.