Madonna and her ex-husband Guy Ritchie appear to have experienced something this December that many co-parents know all too well: a big disagreement over holiday parenting time.
According to news reports, the former couple’s custody clash ended up in court on December 23 when an emergency hearing took place. It’s speculated that a judge was called in to enforce orders allowing their sons to spend Christmas with Ritchie in England.
Celebrity news aside, are you and your children’s co-parent experiencing your own tensions over holiday parenting time schedules? Did this year’s Christmas or Hanukkah arrangements leave you feeling like you need more time with your kids? Are you in the midst of getting a divorce and want to know how to prevent holiday parenting time turmoil?
Here is an important tip: You don’t need to wait until it’s hours before the holiday to get your plan in place. In fact, the best time to start planning your 2020 holiday parenting schedule is right now!
Here are three tips to get you started:
Sharpen your negotiation skills: Christmas, Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, Easter, Passover, and even New Year’s and Halloween… Whatever blend of holidays your family celebrates, think about what will work to practically share this time, and which holidays are true priorities for you.
When parents must hammer out child custody and parenting time arrangements during their divorce, determining where their kids will spend the holidays is often one of the most emotionally charged parts of the process. Do your best to look objectively at your options and be open to creative solutions.
For example, if you know your ex always has a big Thanksgiving dinner with her side of the family and it’s really important to them that your kids attend, then use this as a bargaining chip for getting time on the holiday that means the most to you. Thanksgiving with your ex and Christmas or Hanukkah with you, for example.
Do you both want Christmas? Other creative negotiations include having the kids spend Christmas Eve and early Christmas morning to unwrap presents with one parent, and then spending the remainder of Christmas day with the other parent. If you and your ex could possibly make this work, another win-win tactic is to have Christmas present unwrapping at one home, with both parents present. Are you looking for more time over the holiday season than just the actual day of the holiday (i.e., attending a special event with your kids during the holiday season)? Check out these 6 tips for negotiating even more holiday parenting time.
What to do when negotiations don’t work: Sometimes custody agreements just can’t be reached between co-parents and going to court to settle custody disputes is needed. If you require a judge to issue your holiday parenting time schedule, be prepared to show the judge why time with you over the holidays is important.
If you have limited parenting time over the year due to your work schedule or geographic location, holidays — which typically coincide with school vacation for kids and time off from work for many parents — might be the ideal time for you to have quality parenting time with your children. On the flip side, if you know that your child’s other parent usually works on holidays (i.e., is an on-call doctor), this could be a compelling reason why your child spends more of the day with you. The courts will always look at what is in the best interests of the child in determining parenting time.
If you already have a holiday parenting time schedule in place and your ex is refusing to follow it, you can go to the courts to seek custody enforcement (as apparently Guy Ritchie did with just hours to go before Christmas). If your family’s situation has changed — for example you or your co-parent have moved long distance making a Christmas morning/Christmas afternoon sharing of time impossible, you can go to the courts to modify the holiday parenting time order and change the schedule.
Make the holidays a priority in your divorce: As the New Year begins and the holiday season starts to fade into the background, don’t lose sight of holiday parenting time planning. It’s important — for both you and your kids — and your attorney should offer you plenty of options for how to create the best plan possible.
With your insights into what worked and didn’t work still fresh on your mind, and with your ex perhaps more willing to negotiate time with the kids, jump on holiday planning now rather than waiting until next year. The gift of special time with your kids is the best gift you can give yourself — and you can get it right now.
Want to discuss your holiday parenting time arrangements? Have questions about custody? We can help. Start safeguarding your future with your kids today by coming in a free attorney consultation. Gets answers to all your questions and get a clear strategy for moving forward. Call us at 888-888-0919, or please click the green button below.