The holiday season is a special time for gift-giving, family traditions and a change of pace, much of it focused on the children. Unfortunately, these special moments can be spoiled when parents who share custody have not put in place a holiday plan ahead of time, or are less than flexible about making changes to one.
This can create tension, drama and even more stress than what most people already experience at this time of the year. In Mississippi, there are specific criteria that must be met that promote the overall wellbeing of the family in custody arrangements. The custody settlement should reflect these priorities going into the holidays.
The importance of scheduling
According to Forbes contributors Kelly Frawley and Emily Pollock, there are strategies that co-parents can use to negotiate equal time that factor in each parent’s relationship to their children, their religious beliefs and family traditions as well as any unique activities that either parent does with the kids.
Advanced planning and clear communication are key elements to successful co-parenting. Some suggestions for creating a plan for the holidays include:
- Alternating years will allow each parent to trade off spending the entire winter break with the children, rather than adhering to the typical trade-offs that normally occur during the rest of the year. With this approach, each parent can plan an extended trip and schedule activities that create bonds with the children.
- Dividing the winter break in half will alternatively allow both parents to share time with the children. This division can be by the week, or even by the day if the co-parents can agree to share time on Christmas Eve and/or Christmas Day. A third possibility is to have the children time with both parents together, if everyone can get along.
- Discussing what gifts to give the children so that there are no duplicate gifts or forgotten ones because one parent thought the other was providing a certain item on the list. The more collaboration there is between the parents, the less confusion and potentially awkward moments will occur.
Make it official
No matter how well the parents get along, all custody arrangements, including arrangements that address religious holidays and family traditions, should go into the custody settlement during the divorce. It is important to find compassionate legal counsel in the Gulfport area to help with custody settlements or modifications that will provide a framework that can truly make the holidays a special time of the year.