“How To Share The Holidays When You Share Custody”

This is a re-post of some advice for the holidays. It may not seem like it, but Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner. It’s time to make plans NOW to avoid problems during the holidays themselves.~2017

The Holidays should be a time of peace and joy, but they can be a battleground in split-custody situations.

There are some situations where the level of conflict is so high that you simply need to have a well-defined holiday schedule put in place by the judge and which is then followed exactly. This is appropriate in cases where one side continually breaks agreements, is unreasonable, or there is a history of major problems at the holidays. If you need this, you should get it, and just be resigned to following it.

For everyone else, the holidays can go much more smoothly if you keep the following things in mind.

1. Be open to changes that revolve around family events. Both you and your ex may have something special going on they you’d like adjust the schedule for. These things are important to kids: MUCH more important that you making a point to your ex or having a little “get back” for the time that he or she refused YOUR request to change time.
2. Make sure to explain why you want a change when asking for it. It makes a difference to most people.
3. Be willing to exchange the time back in the future, or during that holiday.
4. Put the agreement in a simple writing—text or e-mail confirmation is fine, and could save problems down the road.
5. Keep in mind that kids like to know what the schedule is going to be. Don’t change it around a bunch of times. They want to spend time with both parents, and they want to know what they will be doing, and when. Set it and stick to it.
6. Keep in mind that as much as you may dislike your ex’s parents, they are the grandparents. Making some arrangements for them to be able to see them is important.

My final recommendation is this: it is always a bit sad to have parts of the holidays where you don’t see your children. That’s inevitable. But you do have to keep it in perspective—your children are healthy and having a happy holiday season. You have friends, perhaps quite a few who are in the same boat as you are. The holidays are what you make of them. Decide to be happy and grateful. Spend time with your kids, and then time with friends and family, and maybe plan an outing with people in the same situation. Go see a movie on Christmas Eve, go skiing, get out of the house. Life is short, so don’t let self-pity suck the life out of your holidays.

DISCLAIMER: All legal principles quoted are valid as of the date of writing in the State of California. However, you should NEVER base your actions on a legal article, blog, or internet story, as facts in real life are complicated. You should have your case evaluated by an attorney experienced in the area of law needed for your case. In addition, there are often exceptions and potential changes to results that occur due to facts that you may think are trivial or unimportant. This article should not be taken in any way as legal advice on your specific legal matter.

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