While the holidays often bring stress, for divorcing and recently-divorced parents, figuring out how to make the most of the holiday season can present additional challenges. If you are in the process of getting divorced, should you and your spouse spend the holiday as a family? What if that is not a realistic option?
If this is your first holiday season as a single parent, what are your rights with regard to custody and visitation; and, what can you do to make the holidays as enjoyable for your children (and yourself) as possible?
The Holidays During a Divorce
Let’s talk first about going through the holidays during a divorce. If you and your spouse are living separately, or if you do not think that you will be able to successfully spend the holidays as a family, you will need to develop a plan that works for you and your spouse.
As with the various other aspects of getting divorced, for most couples, the best way to do this is to reach an amicable resolution. It is always best to plan in advance and making sure you and your spouse are on the same page will help you avoid disagreements when it comes to dividing time with your children.
When splitting time during the holidays, divorcing spouses have the ability to do so informally, though it is usually in both parents’ best interests to work out an agreement through their attorneys. This will help prevent the parents from overlooking any potential issues, and it will help ensure that neither parent makes mistakes that could lead to legal complications. If one parent wishes to travel with the couple’s children out of state, confirming the terms of travel in advance can help avoid issues as well.
Asking a Judge to Intervene
If you and your spouse are unable to come to terms, you may need to ask a judge to intervene. In Ohio, it is possible to obtain temporary custody and visitation orders during the divorce process.
If you are concerned that your spouse may try to prevent you from spending the holidays with your children, formal legal action may be necessary.
However, before going this route, it is usually best to exhaust the less-contentious alternatives, and your attorney will be able to help you decide whether it is necessary to go to court.
Going Through the Holidays After a Divorce
If you are recently divorced, the terms of your divorce settlement agreement or final divorce decree should dictate you and your former spouse’s parenting rights during the holidays. While it is possible that your standard custody and visitation schedule will govern, many parents choose to negotiate specific terms for the holidays during the divorce process. For example, some common arrangements include:
- Alternating parenting time for individual holidays
- Alternating parenting time for the holidays on an annual basis
- Splitting time on each holiday between the parents
- The couple’s children spending the eve of the holiday with one parent and spending the actual holiday with the other (perhaps with the parents alternating holidays or years)
Even with a sound custody and visitation plan in place, many recently-divorced parents understandably still struggle during the holiday season. These tips may help you get the most out of the holidays; and, if you are dissatisfied with your custody or visitation rights, you can contact us to find out if you may be eligible to seek a modification.
Contact the Cleveland Family Law Attorneys at Laubacher & Co.
If you would like more information about establishing or enforcing your child custody or visitation rights during the holidays, you can contact our law offices in Cleveland for a free consultation. To speak with one of our experienced family law attorneys in confidence, please call (440) 336-8687 or request an appointment online today.