If you are a divorced, separated, or unmarried parent, holidays can present a number of rather unique challenges. In most families, and in most years, the winter holidays are a time for getting together with loved ones, many of whom have not seen one another in some time—possibly since the same holiday last year. If you are subject to a shared parenting agreement, remember that your court order is what must be followed when you cannot agree on how to share the children for the holidays.
Do Not Wait
While it may seem that November just started, Thanksgiving is less than a week away. This means that you and your child's other parent should not delay in making plans regarding your holiday parenting time. The first thing you should do, however, is to check your existing parenting plan document—also known as your possession order—as many such plans contain a holiday parenting time schedule created years in advance to reduce confusion. If your order does not include a holiday schedule or provides that you will negotiate a reasonable agreement each year, it is time to start preparing for the winter holidays.
Prioritize and Compromise
While many families will get together quite often, including on commonly-celebrated holidays, certain holidays are more “important”—for lack of a better word—than others are to some families. For example, your family may prioritize your Christmas or Hanukkah traditions, while the other parent's family traditionally places a greater emphasis on Thanksgiving or New Year's Day. If your respective priorities allow you, develop a plan that provides your child to be a part of each of the important celebrations. Again, keep in mind that your court order is the default when you cannot agree.
If you and your child's other parent wish to celebrate the same holidays, use creativity while keeping your child at the forefront of your planning. You may need to plan for half-days with each parent so that your child can participate with each family. Alternatively, if your extended family is amenable, you may even consider scheduling your celebration for the day before or the day after the actual holiday to facilitate your parenting time situation.
Whatever agreement that you and the other parent are able to reach, it will be important for you to remain respectful and civil with one another. Holiday get-togethers can be unpredictable so if the other parent is supposed to drop your child off at a certain time, but is a little bit late, avoid ruining the spirit of the holiday by overreacting. Of course, if it is a pattern of behavior, it can be addressed at a later time, but in the moment, do not let a minor inconvenience become a major point of contention.
In light of the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis, virtual and online celebrations are likely to be very common this year. If travel restrictions or personal safety concerns have changed your family's usual plans, you may need to facilitate video visits between your child and the other parent and their family this holiday season. Your efforts in doing so will go a long way in promoting not only your child's best interests but also a healthier relationship between you and the other parent.
Call a Collin County Child Custody Lawyer for Help
If you would like to learn more about developing a parenting plan to accommodate your family's holiday celebrations, contact an experienced Frisco family law attorney. Call 214-618-2101 for a confidential consultation at The Page Law Firm today.