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How to Deal with Joint Custody During the Holidays

The holidays are often the most family-oriented time of the year. If you share joint custody of your children with your ex-spouse, it’s likely that working out a holiday schedule is the hardest part of setting up visitation for the entire year. Consider these useful tips to help you reach a compromise you can both live with.

Check Your Parenting Agreement or Court Order

You will probably have an easier time figuring out joint custody during the holidays if you establish a specific schedule in your parenting agreement or court order. Here, you can set up a baseline for dividing your children’s visits between each parent’s home each holiday season.

For instance, you might choose to share the holiday break, alternating who has the kids for the first and second halves of winter break. Alternatively, you might rotate the entire holiday every other year, which might be more convenient if you live states away. Establishing these baselines gives you a starting point for dealing with joint custody during the holidays.

Request Exceptions on a Case by Case Basis

Are there extenuating circumstances this year that warrant an exception to the parenting agreement? Perhaps your sister is coming to town at the last minute, and you want your child to participate in activities with your side of the family while she’s here. Maybe you won tickets to a concert you know your child would love to attend.

Whatever the reason, make your request as specific and honest as possible. Offer to make some compromises elsewhere in the schedule to make this exception fair, such as extending your children’s next visit with your ex. Also, if you recently agreed to alter the parenting agreement to meet your spouse’s requests, you can bring this up as leverage to help your case.

Be Prepared to Accept “No” as the Answer

The rules in your parenting agreement supersede any special requests you make. If your ex is adamant about having the kids during their scheduled time, you can’t force a change. All you can do is reasonably explain your desires, offer a visitation exchange to make it fair, and hope your ex is sympathetic enough to agree.

Be Open to Your Ex-Spouse’s Requests

If you want to make exceptions this year, odds are your former spouse might ask to do the same in the future. Honoring a request when it isn’t a significant inconvenience to you shows that you respect your ex. This may increase the chances of having your own requests met later down the road.

Keep Your Children Out of the Negotiations

While sharing custody of your children means this debate is all about them, don’t drag your kids into the disagreement. This means you shouldn’t discuss your desire to change the schedule before your ex has agreed to make an exception. If your plans don’t work out, everyone’s hard feelings could ruin the holiday for your children.

We also encourage you not to ask your kids to decide between spending the holidays with Mom or Dad. You and your ex are the adults in this situation. Let your kids be kids, and handle the negotiations regarding your joint custody without any unfair manipulation.

Contact Graham Law Firm, PLLC for Questions About Child Custody

In the end, it’s most important to take your child’s needs into account when deciding how to deal with joint custody during the holidays. If you have questions about child custody laws in Virginia, or you’re searching for mediation in a child visitation case, please call us at 703-443-9360 or fill out our online contact form to set up a consultation with one of our family lawyers in Leesburg.

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