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Creating a Working Visitation Schedule for the Holidays

Custody and Visitation - Smith & McGhee

The holiday season is supposed to be filled with office parties, family gatherings, and a whole lot of fun. It is also one of the most stressful seasons of the year. Why? For many, the holidays mean arguments between parents who try to determine how visitation will be handled. There are multiple holidays during the season, but it can be difficult to figure out how visitation will be handled for each one. Some parents switch every year based on who the child was with the previous year for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas or New Year’s Day.

With the holidays behind us and a New Year having just begun, this is a good time to look at visitation schedules during the holidays and how to ensure that things go smoothly between you and your ex when future holidays come up. Here are some ways to create a visitation schedule that works for the holiday season.

Switch Holidays Yearly

One of the best ways to make a schedule that works during the holiday season is to alternate visitation on holidays each year. For example, if your children were with you last year for Christmas, they should be with the other parent this year. Next year, they will spend the holiday with you again. If alternating the holidays yearly doesn’t work, you can split the holidays in half. One year, you get the kids for the morning portion and then take them to the other parent for the second half of the day. Then, next year, the kids are with the other parent in the morning and then with you for the afternoon/evening.

Celebrate Holidays Twice

If the options mentioned above haven’t been working, you could explore celebrating the holidays twice. For example, you can celebrate Christmas with your children prior to the actual holiday on the year that they spend the actual holiday with the other parent. Then, the following year, the other parent can celebrate Christmas prior to the holiday since they will be with you on December 25th.

Assign Holidays

Do you prefer to celebrate Thanksgiving with your child rather than New Year’s Day for example? Are you more concerned about being with your child on Christmas than the other parent? If so, you can assign holidays that are most important to each parent as part of the visitation schedule. This option works best when the two parents have differing views on holidays and how much each means to them.

Combining Holidays and Alternating Days

Many parents have success with combining holidays and alternating days. For example, parents could spend the eve of a holiday with their child and let the child spend the holiday with the other parent. This works best for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. If you aren’t concerned about Christmas, you can let the other parent have it and then you have your child for the rest of winter vacation. This also works for Thanksgiving and the Thanksgiving weekend.

Alternating the days in the holiday season works for some parents, but not all. Another option here is to combine holidays. For example, combine New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day into one holiday and then the parents can alternate them each year.

Conflict Areas with Holiday Visitation Scheduling

If you fail to create a holiday visitation schedule that works, you and the other parent could wind up finding yourselves with some confusing issues that might create conflicts, such as:

  • No one knows the drop off and pick up times;
  • Parents don’t know the transportation arrangement between residences;
  • Both parents wanting the child for a specific holiday, which could result in a heated dispute;
  • Children refusing to visit one parent since they know there’s no schedule in place;
  • Parents unable to make alternative plans for the holidays in time because they aren’t sure what the arrangement is.

When to Revise Visitation Schedules

It’s important to review and revise any visitation schedule you have for the holidays every so often for the following reasons:

  • Either you or the child have moved too far away from each other;
  • The child is now a legal adult;
  • One of the parents has remarried;
  • The child asks for a different schedule;
  • A parent has a change in employment that affects the schedule;
  • A parent has been deemed unfit by the courts.

Consult with a Seasoned Attorney Today

Do you have trouble coming to an agreement with the other parent of your child on a visitation schedule for the holidays? If so, it’s a good idea to speak with an experienced Alabama and Florida family law attorney about your situation. Call the office of Smith & McGhee today at 334-702-1744 to schedule your initial appointment. Our office is conveniently located on West Main Street in Dothan, Alabama.