Navigating Custody Arrangements During the Holiday Season

Child custody and visitation

Whether you’ve been divorced for a while or just recently separated, the holidays bring a unique set of challenges when it comes to custody arrangements. We will explain what you need to do to navigate those challenges, including any legal steps you should take.

Negotiating joint custody arrangements that include equal amounts of time during holiday and vacation periods is important. Without such orders in place, the other parent could take all of the holidays for herself or himself and there is little that can be done with no court case and judge to turn to.

The Importance of a Parenting Plan in Custody Arrangements

Getting to a good parenting plan should be your goal, with the assistance of a family law attorney. The end result would optimally be generous amounts of time during the school year and also during all holidays and vacations.

Some typical orders for shared holidays might be:

  • Christmas in even years to dad, in odd years to mom
  • Thanksgiving in even years to mom, in odd years to dad
  • one-half of Christmas vacation and spring break to each parent
  • half of each summer to each parent

What you are trying to do is preserve and continue your frequent contact with your children, especially during holidays, vacations and school closings.

The Legal Side of Custody Arrangements

Reaching an agreement with the other parent is ideal, but you may have to go through mediation to get there or have your attorney negotiate the terms of your holiday custody time.  Sometimes a court hearing will be necessary, and if this happens, you and your attorney can explain to the judge why your children need you in their lives all parts of the year and especially when they are taking breaks from school.

This will also allow you to continue and develop your children’s relationship with the rest of your family, so grandma and grandpa and their aunts and uncles and cousins can remain close.

When Modifications Are Needed to Your Custody Arrangements

If you already have a custody order in place that does not have a holiday parenting plan—and particularly if the other parent is giving you a hard time about the holidays because of this—you should take steps to modify the existing order.

You can do so by taking the steps outlined here, with the assistance of your attorney. You will need to show that something has changed and this is substantial enough for the court to make changes to your custody order.  

Your attorney will help you explain this so the court gets the message and within a short time you may find things have changed in your favor.

An Experienced Attorney Can Help With Custody Arrangements

When you’re going through a divorce, an experienced divorce attorney can help you navigate the process, including those related to custody arrangements.

If you are considering divorce or have already made the difficult decision to pursue divorce and have questions, contact JWB Family Law to schedule a free consultation.

The Importance of the CFLS Designation

A Certified Family Law Specialist, or CFLS, is an attorney who has obtained certification in the standards of California family law and demonstrated optimal legal competence. Attorneys who obtain this certification have specific expertise in all aspects of family law, which includes divorce or the dissolution of marriagechild and spousal support, child custody, and temporary restraining orders, among other areas of emphasis.

Not every attorney practicing family law has obtained this certification. In fact, the designation remains relatively rare—there are fewer than 2,000 CFLS attorneys in California and fewer than 200 in San Diego.

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