Although many courts view joint custody arrangements as the most beneficial for a child, they can certainly raise some challenges. This is perhaps highlighted best during the holidays, as parents may bicker over who will get to spend time with the child. Disagreements can quickly arise over when parent-time is to occur and how long it is meant to last, and there are often disputes over lack of adherence to drop-off and pick-up times.
This might sound stressful, but you can be proactive in addressing parent-time during the holidays by creating a strong plan that is acceptable to both parents. Here are some examples of what your plan can look like:
- Alternate holidays: Here, you and the other parent take turns each year spending holidays with the child. For example, you get to have the child on Thanksgiving in even-number years, while in odd-number years, the other parent gets the child for Thanksgiving. This ensures that you get to spend the full holiday with your child, but it also means that you’ll have to go a whole year before you can spend a certain holiday with them.
- Share time on the holiday: Another popular option is splitting the holidays in half so that each parent spends half of the day with the child. For example, you may get your child on Christmas morning, while the other parent gets the child starting at noon or 1:00 p.m. Of course, this type of arrangement can have its own set of challenges. Some people, for example, may find Christmas morning to be more valuable than the afternoon, so how do you decide which parent gets the morning with the child? You will also have to navigate drop-off and pick-up times that work for everyone.
- Negotiate fixed holidays: With this option, you will spend all day on specified holidays with your child each and every year. This can simplify things, but it also means that there may be holidays that you won’t be able to celebrate with your child. For some people, this is unacceptable. For others, they may be fine with missing the actual holiday and celebrate the holiday another time.
- Celebrate holidays twice: Another popular option for parent-time during the holidays is simply celebrating twice, once with each parent. While you may not get your child on the actual date of the holiday, you can still have extra time with them to make things special. If this proposal is on the table, though, you still might want to ensure that you’re getting holiday time with your child at some point, even if it’s on an alternating basis.
Keep in mind that a parent-time plan may seem set in stone, but it does not have to be. If you work out an arrangement that later proves untenable, then you and the other parent can work together to make modifications that work for both parties. However, if you can’t reach an agreement, you may need to turn to the court for assistance.