Child Custody Disputes During the Holidays
Disputes about child custody and parenting time are very common during the holidays. The holidays are a quintessentially “family” time of year, and everyone wants to have the kids then. The problem is that if there is no custody order in place, the law generally does not address the issue. So, your first step should be to check with your Final Decree of Divorce or any applicable Order in Suit Affecting Parent-Child Relationship to determine who gets the kids for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or other holidays mentioned in customized possession orders. (If you don’t have a copy of these, your divorce attorney can provide you with one.)
According to standard possession and access schedules in Texas, the parent with primary custody of the children might be with them for Thanksgiving break in even-numbered years while the non-custodial parent gets the odd-numbered years. The visitation period begins on the day that the children are released for school for Thanksgiving break and ends when they must return.
When using the standard schedules, the non-custodial parent gets the children for the front half of the holiday break on the even years, and the custodial parent on the odd years. The back half is reversed. The halves are dated from the school release date for the Christmas holiday for the front half. The back half begins at noon on December 28 and ends when school goes back into session after the holiday.
If your child’s other parent is disputing the standard schedule, you should seek help from your child custody lawyer right away.
What If It’s All Pending?
If there isn’t yet an order and you’re still in the midst of child-custody war, there are some steps you can use to try to ease the tensions and work things out for the holidays:
- Don’t Wait till the Last Minute – Start as soon ahead of the holidays as you can. Remember, this is supposed to be doing what is in your child’s best interest, so try to do it sooner rather than later for everyone’s ease and benefit.
- Share the Holidays – Even if you can’t stand to be together with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, you can at least allow your children to spend part of each holiday with that parent. If you can join in without engaging in battle, all the better.
- Split the Holidays – If sharing doesn’t work, consider splitting. Make the kinds of arrangements that are likely to be made in your final decree or child custody order. Suggest alternate holidays and alternate years.
- Make Your Own Holiday – If Festivus isn’t your idea of fun, think of other alternatives that might work. St Nicholas Day (December 6) or Boxing Day (December 26), or Twelfth Night (Epiphany) are all excellent alternatives to Christmas that can create lasting memories for your children that don’t involve parents fighting about the calendar. A little creativity can avoid disputes in the long run.
Speak with a Fort Worth Child Custody Attorney Today
Remember, holiday memories from childhood are precious to us all. Try to work with your ex-spouse or soon-to-be-ex to continue to provide happy memories for your children. If nothing else works, consider contacting a Texas family law attorney to resolve your dispute. The law firm of Kyle Whitaker can advise you of your options and help you find a peaceful resolution for the holidays whenever possible.