Tips on Negotiating a Holiday Visitation Schedule

Posted On November 21, 2022 Custody,Divorce,Family Law

Sharing child custody during the holidays after a divorce can be extremely challenging. However, if you can open up the lines of communication with a co-parent, the odds of coming up with a holiday visitation schedule that works for you both significantly improve.

Negotiating Tips for Before a Divorce is Final

If you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse are amicable, try to come up with a holiday schedule that benefits both of you. Keep in mind that the children’s needs should come first, and be flexible. There are several options to choose from, for instance:

  • Splitting a holiday in half;
  • Alternating which parent has each holiday every year;
  • Giving the same holiday to one parent every year; or,
  • Scheduling the same holiday twice so each parent has the opportunity to celebrate all holidays with their children.

Of course, not all holidays must be shared the same way, and parents can use any combination of the options available. On the other hand, if you are going through a litigated divorce, the court will decide how the holiday visitation schedule is divided. Before deciding, a judge will consider how the holidays were handled in previous years. Still, usually holiday visitation will be split in half with holiday time alternating each year, regardless of if one parent has primary custody.

Negotiating Tips for After a Divorce is Final

Before petitioning the court for changes to an existing parenting plan, arrange a time to discuss the holiday schedule with the other parent. In preparation, it is critical to:

  • Learn about the child custody and visitation laws in Washington.
  • Have a prepared argument and supporting documents to back up your suggestions.
  • Try to remain calm and respectful throughout the discussion.
  • Keep an open mind, be flexible, and set realistic expectations.
  • Remember that your child’s needs come first.
  • Take the time to listen to a co-parent and avoid reacting negatively to their concerns or suggestions.
  • Stick to the topic and be open to a different outcome than expected.

If a co-parent is not cooperating or respectful, you can negotiate the holiday schedule in front of a mediator or hire an attorney, if necessary. In mediation, a neutral third party can work with parents to find areas of agreement for the holiday visitation schedule. Alternatively, if the matter is taken to court, it will be up to a judge to decide.

The Process for Modifying a Parenting Plan

If negotiations fail and you still wish to change the holiday schedule, you have the option to petition the court for a parenting plan modification. However, you will need adequate cause for the modification, and the change must be in the best interests of the child. Judges are very hesitant about making big changes.

As a result, hiring a Spokane Child Custody Attorney is vital. Their experience and resources can significantly increase your chances of successfully negotiating a holiday visitation schedule with your ex-spouse or convincing a judge that a change to your existing parenting plan is the best choice for your child.


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