This time of year comes with decreased work schedules, visits with family, gifts and long weekends. When you share your children with a co-parent, the holiday season can also be a source of extreme frustration. Creating a holiday custody schedule can be overwhelming and lead to arguments or confusion if you don’t create a solid plan together. In this article, we’ll discuss what this should look like and how to get started.
What Should a Holiday Child Custody Schedule Look Like?
While any other time of the year may have a standard schedule that both parents follow, for instance you might get the kids for one week before they go to their other parent’s home for the following week. A holiday custody schedule can be a bit more complex than your schedule for the rest of the year. Since the holiday season can extend from mid-September through early January, your schedule should account for school breaks that warrant shorter or longer visitation times, sharing custody within the same day, and changing work schedules.
How to Determine Your Holiday Custody Schedule
As with any other time of the year, start planning your schedule by sitting down with your co-parent. If you can discuss and agree on an arrangement that works for both of you and your applicable work schedules, the process is very straightforward. As long as you both agree on a schedule, you may go by that schedule without, necessarily, the need for Court intervention.
However, if you try this and can’t come to an agreement, you can always look for a Albuquerque family lawyer to mediate and act as the third party that resolves disputes or arguments when necessary. Alternatively, a lawyer can represent your interests and bring suit so the Court can intervene if an agreement can’t be reached. If you expect to take this route, ensure you have enough time before the holidays to allow enough time for either the filing of an agreement or for the motion process to take place before the holidays.
Consider Your Child’s Preferences
While we often consider the holidays to be a time of peace, many of us get swept up in the stress and busy schedule of the season. Before you get too distracted by your planning, consider which parent your child or children would like to see for which holiday. Whether your child prefers to see a certain grandmother on Christmas morning, eat with a particular uncle on Thanksgiving, or celebrate Kwanzaa at home with you, their input should be considered. If possible, you may wish to consider their direct input.
Pay Attention to the Small Details
This should include everything from your address of residence, the address where you’ll be spending most of your time (i.e., will you be with the grandparents or at a cousin’s home to celebrate the holidays), and how your co-parent will reach you if a sudden change needs to be made in the custody schedule, as well as in case of emergency or sudden travel restrictions. By including this in the schedule from the beginning, you can avoid headaches and confusion later down the road should your co-parent disagree after the schedule has already been established.
Detail Out-Of-State Travel
If you’ll be taking your child out of New Mexico during the time they’re in your custody, make sure to include this in writing in your visitation schedule. Often parents provide the other with an itinerary detailing out of state travel and allowing the remaining parent to feel contented that their child or children can be accounted for while abroad. For more tips and information about how to navigate a visitation schedule where one parent lives out of state, check out this article on the recommendations and laws on out-of-state travel.
Make Room to Be Flexible
Remember, in New Mexico, there are no nonmodifiable visitation schedules. While you can create and plan for a general timeline, things can change as long as they’re still in your child’s best interest. For example, if your co-parent’s flight is delayed, you may need to keep your child an extra day; this may not require any additional paperwork. If you are still adhering to your parenting plan, the court will not take issue with small tweaks to your schedule if the other parent does not take issue.
However you choose to share custody this holiday season, the team at the Law Office of Dorene A. Kuffer is here to offer a helping hand if you need it. Our Albuquerque family lawyers will sit down with just you, or both parents, to help determine the holiday custody schedule that works for both parents and ensures that the child’s best interests are held as the highest priority. Contact us to get started.