No matter where you live, custody can be a tough issue. In New Mexico divorces, this tends to be one of the most hotly debated areas next to property and debt division. Even if you and your spouse are still getting along, problems can arise over custody and parenting time simply because your children are the most important people in your lives, and the two of you may not always agree on what the best course of action regarding the children is.
Considering how complex and emotional custody can be, it’s best to craft a parenting plan that is as comprehensive as possible. While you can’t anticipate every single thing that will happen to the kids or come up in the future, you can help ward off drawn-out disputes down the road by being detailed in your parenting plan, particularly when it comes to the holidays.
Where’s home for the holidays?
Holiday time can cause issues even when there is no divorce or separation involved. Consider, for example, the times you and your spouse had to decide which family members you were going to visit on specific holiday days because you simply don’t have time to see everyone. In those situations, you’re trying to juggle seeing as many family members as you can in the same time frame, deciding how much time you can spend at each house and how much time you will need for yourselves. It can be a tough act, especially if you have a lot of family and friends to see.
Now, add divorce or separation into that same scenario, and you’ll see just how thorny the holidays could become without a plan. When you and your spouse were still together, you could make last-minute adjustments as necessary because there was flexibility. However, with a divorce or legal separation, that flexibility may be gone, and you’re now looking at two different people with two different sets of holiday plans as opposed to a couple on the same page. Essentially, the more specifics you work into your parenting plan, the better you will be able to plan, and it can also cut down on arguments.
The essential minimum
In your parenting plan, there are things you need to address beyond which days you will each have the kids. Exact times for pickup and drop-offs, for example, eliminate confusion and ensure you and your spouse know exactly what you are responsible for. Holidays should be specifically assigned to each of you, as well as when “holiday times” start, such as the last day of school or the next day. You should also include which parent will pick up and drop off the kids on holidays and school days, and spell out what you will do when the schedule is too vague. You can, for example, list the name of a friend or family member who could serve as mediator in those situations. Try to think of all the possible areas where clear details could be helpful when it comes to time with the kids. If, for example, your child plays sports, you can add the game day responsibilities in there, too.
Even if you know all these answers already, having it down in writing can avoid trouble down the road. It’s not as if you and your spouse can’t verbally agree to deviate from the parenting plan; it’s just best to have a default you can revert to should the need arise. Your attorney can help you craft the parenting plan, and he or she may be able to catch things you forgot about that need to be addressed.