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Much like regular parent time, holiday parent time refers to the custody arrangement you have with your ex, but specifically around the holiday season. Your divorce decree likely includes provisions pertaining to where your children will spend holidays on both even and odd years.

Parents are free to negotiate the terms of where the children will spend the holidays as the parents see fit. As long as both parents agree, any stipulation can be made. If you plans don’t fit with the parent-time schedule, parents may negotiate  changes to the holiday parent-time schedule as they see fit. For example, if you have plans to fly out of state to see your extended family during the holiday season, you may be able to negotiate an arrangement with your ex, if the holiday vacation would overlap with your ex’s parent time. However, your ex is legally entitled to their parent time. So, if they do not agree to the arrangement, you will have to follow the decree and adjust your plans accordingly. 

Where Do I Go If I Have Questions?

If you have questions about your holiday parent time, your divorce decree is the best place to start. If you still have questions regarding your holiday parent time, your attorney will be able to answer them. It’s a good idea to plan out your holiday arrangements well before Christmas time. It’s not uncommon for attorney’s offices and courts to close for the holidays. If a dispute arises, it will not likely be able to be resolved until after the holidays. For this reason, make sure you have all your holiday plans set in stone well before the holiday season. Also, make sure that you and your ex are on the same page about what those arrangements are. Depending on what your relationship with your ex is like, it may be a good idea to have all holiday plans in writing, preferably text or email. That way if there is a disagreement, your attorney has time to seek assistance from the court to resolve the dispute.

Work with Your Ex

The holidays are often a crazy time for everyone, your ex included. If you’re willing to work with your ex, and be flexible, there’s a much higher chance that your holidays will go smoother. For example, if your ex wants to have a couple extra hours on Christmas Day, it may be in the best interest of everyone to allow your ex to have a couple extra hours. If there’s an important holiday or event coming up, you may be able to negotiate an exchange with your ex. If you allow them to have a couple extra hours on Christmas, then they will allow you to have some extra time on New Year’s Day. Generally speaking, cooperation breeds cooperation. Effective and respectful communication will also assist in both parents working towards a plan that will benefit their children.

Don’t Call the Police Immediately

If your ex is late bringing the children to your home, it may be advisable to wait longer until the second they’re late to call the police—especially if your ex has already communicated that they’re running a few minutes behind. Calling the police raises the tensions of both parties, and this isn’t always necessary. Also, the extra contention can ruin Christmas for the children.

It’s not unheard of for parents to consistently be hours late to drop their children off to the other parent. If your ex is one of these parents, Christmas time may not be the time to get the police involved. The best thing you can do is document all infringements on your parent time and bring them up with an attorney at a later date.

Remember the Children

The holiday season is supposed to be a magical time of good cheer for the children. When your ex is asking for reasonable accommodations, remember that this time of year isn’t about getting even with your ex. It’s about the children. Doing your part to keep the peace is an important part of keeping the holidays a magical time for the children. Children are, more often than not, very aware of the conflict and tension between parents. This is particularly true during the holidays. If there are issues involving parent time, you’ll be able to bring them up with an attorney after the holidays. In fact, even if you do bring up issues on Christmas, your attorney may not be available during the week of Christmas. If they are open, the hours your attorney is available may be limited.

Be Considerate with Your Gifts

Is your child dying to have a new puppy that your ex is allergic to? If so, it may be best to hold off on getting a puppy for your child—especially if you haven’t talked this over with your ex. Getting on the same page with your ex about what gifts you’re giving is a great way to prevent any contention that may arise from duplicate gifts, or inappropriate gifts, such as animals your ex is allergic to. Try not to turn the gift giving into a competition. This is harmful to the children, and older children are often able to sense when their parents are giving gifts out of spite for each other.

If you’re considering Divorce

If you’re having issues with holiday parent-time or ready to file for divorce, and you need to hire an attorney to advocate for your best interests, CoilLaw is here for you. At CoilLaw, our experienced legal team has helped so many people get the best outcome possible at the end of the divorce process. If you’re considering divorce, contact CoilLaw today for an initial consultation.


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