The holidays are coming, and although co-parenting can be challenging, it does not have to ruin quality time with your child. Here are some tips on preventing or handling any disagreements on custody and visitation over the holiday season.
Before making plans, touch base with the other parent well in advance of the holidays to ensure you are both on the same page regarding the schedule. This can be easier said than done, as these conversations can quickly turn stressful and lead to arguments. However, discussing the topic early and having set plans might help you avoid further problems later.
Keep in mind that the kids come first. Try to avoid being reactive to any unhelpful behaviors or ideas a co-parent comes up with. Instead, make fair proposals and be ready to compromise. A flexible mindset can be beneficial if any unforeseen circumstances arise, as a child’s needs should come first.
If appropriate for your situation, discuss a reasonable gift-giving plan with a co-parent. For instance, the number of gifts to be given, money limits, and whether there are any items off-limits (e.g., video game system, car, cash, etc.). Parents who try to “out-do” the other can end up backfiring on everyone.
Start a New Tradition
Navigating the holidays after a recent separation or divorce can be overwhelming. Instead of dwelling on how things have changed and any negative aspects, start some new traditions. This may make the transition easier for both you and your child.
Consider Mediation or Counseling
If it seems impossible to collaborate with a co-parent over the holiday schedule, suggest attending a mediation or counseling session. Having an objective third party help you each compromise to negotiate terms can be helpful.
Take Care of Yourself
The challenges of co-parenting mixed with the stress of the holidays mean self-care may be first to go out the window. Taking time to care for yourself both physically and emotionally will enable you to take better care of your children and stay calm when there is conflict with a co-parent.
Speak to a Lawyer
If you are in need of advice or help with creating a co-parenting plan that works for everyone, schedule a free consultation with a Spokane Family Law Attorney.
How Washington Courts Treat the Holidays
Parenting plans in Washington state have a section devoted to the residential schedule during the winter holidays. The court looks at how parents have handled the holiday schedule in the years past when making a decision to ensure consistency. However, the court will often split time equally between the parents during the holiday season regardless of whether one parent typically has the majority of residential time.
The court will also divide the holidays depending on the year so that neither parent always has their children on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve. For example, parent A has December 24th in odd-numbered years and parent B in even-numbered years. On the other hand, if you and a co-parent agree that you need a new parenting plan, you may petition the court to change the residential schedule or custody order.