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What if your parenting plan doesn't fit your holiday schedule?

During your divorce, you and your ex-spouse had to work through some tough issues before finally reaching a custody and visitation agreement. At the time, it appeared to be a good and fair parenting plan.

However, holidays are an exception to regular custody and visitation schedules. There are several scheduling roadblocks that can keep you and your child from getting the most out of your time together if you don't have a holiday plan. What can you do to change this?

Talk to the other parent

Communication is key even if you and the other parent don't get along. You should explain the situation to him or her first and ask for a compromise. Try to convey how changing the schedule would benefit your child, rather than stating it as something that benefits you.

You are more likely to get what you want if you are respectful and don't attack. The other parent does not have to be flexible. If he or she offers to accommodate some but not all of your requests, you may choose to accept the counter proposal.

Request a modification

Courts are sensitive to holiday scheduling and will review these arrangements because they want the child to have access to both parents. In these situations, the courts most likely will grant a modification of the child custody order any time there is a significant change in circumstances. If this is the situation, it may be in the best interest of your child to request a modification from the courts.` The process may take some time, so plan ahead to ensure the access changes can be accommodated.

Follow the existing plan

It is never advisable to violate the custody order. If the other parent does not consent, you should document your requests for the access change. Courts are very interested to see how reasonable each parent is being for the sake of the child. If you violate the order, the other parent could file a violation petition against you or even call law enforcement to have the police enforce the order. If the situation escalates, someone could be arrested. 

Put your child first

Put your child first in whatever you do to get the schedule changed. It may even be tempting to tell your child how much better it would be if the other parent cooperates. However, disputes between parents always cause children stress, and involving your son or daughter in the discussion is never appropriate. Whatever happens with the schedule, do everything you can to make sure the holiday is as free of conflict as possible. After all, happy holiday memories can go a long way in helping your child live happily ever after.

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