Conflicts over adhering to custody arrangements can become even more difficult during the holiday season. For parents who are unprepared to handle the discomfort, just the thought of their child enjoying holiday traditions without them can make a challenging co-parenting situation that much more contentious. To help minimize the tension, here are 5 tips to ensure that you get time with your kids during the holidays.
Even though you may be dealing with a non-compliant co-parent, you do not want to put your children in the middle of your battles or make them feel like they have to choose one parent over the other. As your children grow, they won’t remember every holiday gift you’ve given them, but they will never forget how you made them feel. So when discussing holiday time with your co-parent, remember to keep your children’s best interest at the forefront of every discussion.
Sometimes the specifics of your holiday plan are in your custody agreement, and sometimes they are not. Either way, you want to nail down the details of how you will handle holiday visitation well in advance. Be sure to include pick up times and locations and put the agreement in an email or document that both parents can access.
For parents who cannot agree on a holiday custody plan in Texas, the Standard Protection Order (“SPO”) might provide the structure you need. Texas’ SPO outlines that the noncustodial parent gets the children on alternating holidays. Depending on whether it is an odd or even year, one co-parent will get the kids from 6:00 p.m. on the day school lets out for the holidays until noon on December 28th. The other parent will get the kids for the remainder of the holiday break until 6:00 p.m. on the Sunday before school is back in session. Typically, under this order, one parent will have the kids for Thanksgiving and the other for Christmas in any given year.
If you know that getting your co-parent to comply with any holiday arrangement is going to be an uphill battle, you might want to seek help through mediation. Mediation programs are not only useful when couples are breaking up; they can also help co-parents resolve disputes long after their split. In mediation, a neutral third party trained in dispute resolution will help you and your co-parent resolve custody issues and make cooperative, informed decisions that work for all parties.
If your reasonable attempts at creating a holiday custody schedule with your co-parent fail, you can also go into court to request or modify a holiday visitation order from the judge. With a court-order custody arrangement, a family judge will likely view any non-compliance from your co-parent as contempt of court, and your co-parent could face severe visitation restrictions and other penalties as a result.
If you need assistance ensuring you get to see your kids this holiday season, we can help. Contact Angela F. Brown and Associates today so we can help you make sure that this special season remains a happy one for you and your family.