Best Ways to Avoid the Holiday Custody Crunch

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on December 07, 2010 | Last updated on December 10, 2019

The holidays are a time for family, but family is a challenging concept if you are divorced and share custody of your child or children. 

How do you work out a way for each parent to have some time with the kids during the holidays without it devolving into a pine-scented fight? 

Here are a few ideas to help make your holidays more Happy Days, and less Law and Order.

This is a special holiday extra edition, just for those divorced parents who are scrambling to not only figure out who goes where for Christmas, New Year's, Hanukah or Kwanza, but how it's all going to work. Some solid suggestions were delivered nicely gift wrapped by two commentators writing for The Huffington Post.

  • Divide and conquer: If parents share custody and are of differing faiths, divorced mom Jennifer Cullen suggests using the natural dividing lines in your favor, even if the set schedule would give the kids Christmas with the Jewish parent and Hanukah with the Christian one. You can make a change to the holiday custody schedule if you can and will agree. Which leads too...
  • Get it in writing: As attorney Stacy Schneider recommends, whether you are adjusting the schedule, or just dealing with logistics like pick-ups, hand-offs and out-of-town trips, put it in writing. This avoids misunderstandings and (God forbid) provides a paper trial if one parent decides to play Grinch and steal the other's holiday time.
  • Trade up: If you need to keep the kids for extra time, offer up extra days for a summer vacation trip or other holidays during the year.
  • Plan early and often: An addendum to the get it in writing rule. Make holiday custody plans in October or any other time when things are a bit less pressured.
  • Play nice: Take a hint from the season and let peace reign. Go out of your way to be accommodating.
  • Virtual reality: FindLaw suggests, if you take the kids away for a ski trip or to visit out of town relatives, how about allowing some virutal visitation time to the parent at home? Allow some solid time for Skype chats or other types of video conferencing. This is a new tool being used by courts since the video chat can add something that a phone call can't.

A final suggestion. If Christmas is important to both parents, spend the day together. What better way to place blame promptly for the unwelcome gifts of a drum kit, Grand Theft Auto, or a puppy.

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