What to Do When Your Holiday Visitation Schedule Isn't Working

Parent and child decorating Christmas tree

As the holiday season fast approaches, you may be thinking more about your visitation schedule and the challenges the holidays present. Effective co-parenting is never easy, but it can become especially challenging around the holidays. With events to plan and family to visit, you want to spend as much quality time with your child as possible. You also want to make sure that your child has a fun, happy holiday.

But what happens when your current visitation or custody schedule isn't working? Even when parents agree on how holidays should be shared, they may find that their original plan doesn't work well for them or their children in practice. When this happens, you may have options for modifying your visitation schedule.

Keep reading to learn what you can do when your holiday visitation schedule isn't working for your family.

Review Your Parenting Plan

Typically, parents include a holiday schedule or holiday guidelines as part of their parenting plan. For example, some parents outline that holidays alternate each year or that one parent gets certain holidays (this is common in interfaith families). If you are struggling with your holiday visitation schedule, reviewing your parenting plan can give you a place to start and help you know how best to proceed.

If you find that holidays are not covered in your parenting plan or visitation agreement, you will need to open a dialogue with your co-parent, and it is worth considering modifying these agreements to include holidays.

Communicate with Your Co-Parent

When you are having trouble with your current holiday visitation schedule, you should talk with your co-parent about the problem and see if you can find a way to resolve it amicably. Consider the source of the problem and whether it is an ongoing issue or a problem isolated to one year. For example, do you have family coming into town this year that you want your child to be able to spend time with? Or have you realized that a holiday you previously didn't find important is more significant to you than you thought? Perhaps your children are unhappy they don't get to see both their parents on each holiday.

No matter what the problem is, you should be prepared to compromise and be flexible. Just as you want to spend meaningful time with your child during the holidays, so does their other parent. You also want to consider your co-parent's schedule and that they may have already made plans for the holidays. Consider your long-term goals and do your best to remain calm and understanding of your co-parent's situation while you try to work through this issue.

Renegotiate with Your Child's Other Parent

If you are dealing with an ongoing issue, you and your co-parent may want to renegotiate your holiday visitation schedule and make more permanent changes. However, renegotiating your visitation schedule with your co-parent can be difficult, especially if communicating with each other is challenging or leads to high-conflict situations.

A good option in these cases is mediation. Mediators are neutral third parties who help couples resolve disputes without having to litigate the matter in court. During mediation, each party retains their own legal representation, and the mediator acts as a go-between. Mediators do not provide or mandate a solution to the issue but instead facilitate communication and dispute resolution. Part of why mediation is so popular is that it can reduce animosity between the parties and can help them reach a solution faster than other methods.

Speak with an Attorney to Explore Other Options

Dealing with holiday visitation schedules is often a fraught process. If you struggle with your current schedule or have trouble with a co-parent who isn't adhering to your agreement, you may wish to speak with a lawyer to discuss your options. Depending on the situation, you may want to file for an official modification with the courts. Alternatively, if your co-parent refuses to adhere to your official visitation order, you may need to seek court enforcement. Your attorney can review your situation and help you determine the best option for your case, whether that be mediation, modification, or enforcement.

To speak with one of our experienced lawyers about your case, contact our firm today.

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