Prep Now – Shared Custody and Visitation for the Holidays

It's never too early to plan ahead for custody and visitation

This is the time of year where kids and family are the focus - Halloween, followed by Thanksgiving travel and culminating with Christmas, Hanukkah, and celebrating the new year. What should be a fun time of the year, can often turn into headaches when parents are separated or divorced. Start thinking about a few things now to avoid unnecessary custody and visitation disputes.

It might be difficult, but talking to the other parent is the first place to start. A quick email or text to iron out plans now can spare the feeling of ambiguity prior to travel. Knowing when and how you will have access to your children is simple but can be confusing when both families want to see the kids. For parents who do not have a custody order or stipulation in place, this is a critical component to planning the season for your children.

For this reason, it is advisable to speak with an attorney about establishing a formal custody and visitation arrangement. This way, next year's planning will already be laid out. Pick up, drop off, and duration of visits will be established and made an order of court. If you are finding that cooperating with informal custody demands is not possible, seek experienced divorce attorneys who can draft an agreeable custody schedule.

When couples do have a custody order, be sure to brush up on what it says prior to the holidays. It seems like an obvious solution, but these occasions only happen once a year. This will avoid unnecessary conflicts or wasted travel time and create a smoother experience for the children. Perhaps your custody order dictates even or odd years for Christmas Eve and Christmas day - which parent gets which year? Additionally, to expect custody because the holiday occurs on your normal "every other weekend" schedule does not guarantee your custody for that holiday. There may be a component to the order which dictates that holiday schedule supersedes the regular schedule. Every order is customized to your unique situation and is intended to facilitate this lifestyle - do not disregard a valuable scheduling tool before making plans for custody and visitation.

With that said, consult with your custody order when making and paying for travel plans. Booking flights or other transportation will be in vain if the other parent is out of town or expects custody at another time. Also, the established certainty of booking now will reduce pre-holiday stress on both parents.

Family parties and time together during the holidays is important - especially for your children in the wake of divorce. If this is your first holiday season with shared custody, it can be a trying time for everyone. Consider these tips not just for your own convenience but for the sake of providing your children with great memories.

If you are dealing with a divorce, custody and visitation disputes, or other family law matters, contact our office to speak with an experienced Bucks County family lawyer. At your consultation, our knowledgeable and empathetic attorneys know what it takes to get your family through whatever custody matters may arise during the holidays. Call (215) 942-2100 or submit an inquiry form today.