Home for the holidays: Divorced parents and custody conflicts

The holidays are supposed to be a joyful and festive time when you forget about your woes and simply enjoy time with friends and family. Unfortunately, all too often, the realities of divorce and separation can interfere with the carefree spirit of this time of year, leaving parents and children alike feeling frustrated and left out in the cold.

While it’s true that divorce can be an unpleasant experience, there are measures you can take to alleviate certain challenges during this holiday season. One of the major stressors for separated parents this time of year pertains to scheduling conflicts. Calendars can become chaotic in November, and things often don’t slow down until mid-January. For parents who are already contentious about custody rights, altered schedules can incite further conflict.

To help impart peace between all parties this holiday season, consider the following measures:

Make a Schedule

To avoid miscommunications, make a schedule, and share your expectations with your former partner. Consider employing the help of a mobile app that can help you both stay on the same page. If your child will have school programs and other events in which you’re both expected to participate, make sure those items are clearly outlined as much in advance as possible.

Be Flexible

It’s important to understand that both parents want to be with their children during the holidays. As difficult as it may be, try to be flexible with your custody arrangements, if at all possible. By planning in advance, both parents should be able to come to a reasonable compromise, which allows the child to enjoy family time without feeling pulled in too many directions.

Take Advantage of Custodial Days

Under a custody agreement, you may not have the flexibility to determine which days you spend with your child. Rather than focusing on the specific calendar day on which a holiday occurs, consider utilizing the time you have with your child to impart the value of the holiday itself.

Encourage conversations with your child to facilitate questions and answers, and make preparations to enjoy certain notable holidays outside of the calendar days on which they’re traditionally celebrated. This can be a great time to help your child understand the importance of character building and appreciating family, despite specific dates on a calendar.

Modify Your Custody Agreement

Custody agreements can often be altered as the child ages and familial situations change. If your current custody situation is not optimally suiting your needs, a family law attorney may be able to help you modify your existing custody agreement to bring more neutrality to your situation.

If you and your current or former spouse are unable to come to terms with a mutually-agreeable custody agreement during the holidays, it may be best to seek the assistance of a legal professional. Attorneys who specialize in family law are often able to mitigate such situations and find solutions that keep everyone’s best interests, particularly those of the children, in mind. Consider seeking the advice of a family attorney as soon as possible to prevent unwelcome frustrations from hampering your holidays.

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