The holidays are a time for get-togethers, traditions and family sharing, and children are very much a part of this. For families with co-parenting arrangements, planning ahead and being flexible can make all the difference between being able to share those special moments with your kids and settling for a less than successful holiday.
The holiday season is already a stressful time for families in Los Angeles and elsewhere without the added drama and tension that could appear from an avoidable misunderstanding or refusal to compromise. Decisions regarding custody arrangements must meet specific criteria in California, and the custody settlement should include these priorities going into the holidays.
What scheduling arrangements should parents make?
Negotiating equal time can be tricky, but there are strategies that co-parents can try that are inclusive of each parent’s relationship to the child and their religious and family traditions, as well as the activities that each parent enjoys uniquely with their child.
Some important hallmarks of successful co-parenting include advance planning and clear communications. Some ideas for successful holiday planning include:
- discussing ahead of time which gifts to give the children so that there will be no duplicates or forgotten items that may be on the list. Sitting down together to discuss their plans beforehand will allow the parents to avoid confusion or awkwardness.
- alternating years for each parent to have the kids, instead of trading off the holiday season each year. This way, each parent could make more extensive plans, such as a holiday trip, that would providing solid bonding opportunities with the children.
- dividing the winter break equally to give parents equal time with the kids. This could be weekly or daily, with an agreement to share time on special days such as Christmas and New Year’s, or the evenings before each of these. If appropriate, the parents might consider sharing the children by celebrating together on these holidays.
How solid is the agreement if it isn’t in writing?
Nothing is official or for sure without a written agreement, and this is no different with a custody settlement. Whatever the ex-spouses decide, they should put it in writing when they draft the settlement or seek modifications later if they wish to make changes. Getting information on providing a framework from which to move forward is the first step to capturing those precious holiday memories.