Child custody disputes are hard enough, let alone during the holidays when you want to focus on family. You might want more time with your child than your possession schedule specifies around Christmas, New Year’s Day or other times of year. It is possible to negotiate a flexible situation with your child’s other parent so that you can get the time you want without going back to court.o a Possession Schedule

Before you ever make an agreement with your child’s other parent, you should know your options regarding child custody during the holidays. While there is a standard possession order, you can always deviate from that schedule to meet your own needs and do what is in the child’s best interests.

Some options for child custody during the holidays include:

  • Alternating Holidays – This allows parents to switch custody every other holiday. For example, you might get possession of your child on even numbered years and your child’s other parent would exercise visitation on odd numbered years. This allows each of you to have a complete holiday every other year in case you want to plan trips.
  • Early Holiday Visits – One parent may have an early holiday visitation with the child while the other parent gets time with the child on the actual holiday. For example, you might have Christmas Eve with your child while their other parent gets Christmas Day. This is popular if you are able to be flexible with other family members.
  • Splitting Holidays in Half – You may opt to split the actual holiday in half, where one parent gets to spend Easter morning with the child and the other parent gets evening hours. This allows both parents to have some time on each holiday with the child.
  • Assigning Fixed Holidays – If certain holidays are more important than others, you may negotiate which holidays you have possession of your child and which you are willing to let your co-parent have custody. For example, most fathers want the entire Father’s Day weekend with their children. If you have special family traditions centered around a certain holiday, fixed holidays may be a better option for you.
  • Standard Possession Order (SPO) – When parents cannot agree or want the court to decide, the standard possession order is generally used. It divides holidays according to even and odd numbered years with certain holidays being fixed.

Although you may establish a possession schedule that works during the majority of years, it’s understandable that you might want to deviate from it at times.

Tell Your Co-Parent About Your Plans Early

If you have a trip around the holidays or need to reschedule parenting time, let your child’s other parent know as soon as possible. Even if they’ve been difficult to work with in the past, you need to give them the benefit of the doubt that they will do what’s in the child’s best interests. It is always best for the child to spend holiday time with both parents. The more time you give your child’s other parent to adjust their own plans, the more likely they are to be flexible.

Speak Directly to Your Child’s Other Parent About Your Plans

Instead of sending a message through your child, talk to your co-parent directly about any change of plans that you anticipate. If you are planning a trip over winter break or want additional time with your child, call your co-parent or meet with them in person and request an adjustment in the possession schedule.

Consider Your Co-Parent’s Plans

When requesting additional time with your child over the holidays, you might make the situation more about your co-parent than about yourself. Ask them if there is another schedule that works well for them. Emphasize that you want to be flexible. This will make it more likely that they will negotiate with you when you need to adjust possession.

Ask Nicely, But Be Assertive

When you ask your child’s other parent for an adjustment of parenting time, you should state your request in an assertive manner. You don’t have to explain why you want additional or adjusted time, but it can help your co-parent feel like they are involved in the child’s life. Frame your request nicely, but you don’t have to be overly delightful. Try to imagine what you would want if they were asking you for a deviation in the possession schedule.

When In Doubt, Follow the Parenting Plan

If your child’s other parent is being difficult and refuses to negotiate a different timing schedule with you around the holidays, then just comply with your parenting plan. The court made a possession schedule order that allows both parents to have time during the holidays. Although it may not be convenient or preferable, it does allow you to see your child.

Get Your Child Custody Attorney Involved

If the purpose of your deviation from the established possession schedule order is essential, and your child’s other parent is not being agreeable, you may need to get the court involved. Contact your child custody lawyer and ask them to file a motion to modify possession. You can adjust your visitation schedule for this occasion or into the future.

Call the Law Office of Ben Carrasco, PLLC at (866) 608-4555 to learn about your options to adjust your possession schedule over the holidays.