Holiday travel and gatherings will be more normal this year after a couple years of disruption. But holiday planning may pose more complications for divorced couples with children. Before setting your travel itinerary, you should consult your custody agreement.
Check the agreement
Your child custody agreement can play a large role in your travel plans because it typically sets forth when parents keep their children and the custody and visitation periods. It may also contain a holiday visitation schedule, pick-up and drop-off requirements, and itinerary clearance.
Along with reviewing the agreement, it is also important to discuss plans with the other parent. Children will suffer less stress and enjoy their holidays more if they know that their parents agree with their holiday schedule.
Agreements may or may not allow flexibility for changes in vacation time. Assure that the agreement allows any changes before making them.
Comply with the agreement’s terms if it provides for flexibility. For example, the agreement may require both parents to concur on modifications by requiring a signed or notarized agreement or something less formal such as a text or e-mail agreement.
If couples do not have an agreement or it does not address modified visitation, speak to your attorney, and reach out to the other parent. This will provide time to discuss and consider any changes and make suitable arrangements.
The agreed-upon holiday plan and any changes should be in a written agreement. This will help prevent misunderstandings and prevent a parent from backing out.
Being unreasonable is harmful to everyone. But children, whose needs should come first, usually suffer the most injury. Unreasonableness may also harm your case if there is a custody dispute.
In addition to equal custody and visitation time, be agreeable to making reasonable accommodations. Families have long-held traditions and may celebrate different holidays based upon their religious beliefs. Some parents may want to participate in activities such as trick or treat. Thanksgiving plans, for example, can be altered so children can spend time with both families on that long holiday weekend.
Divorce is stressful and a holiday season can add to that anxiety. Planning, arrangements, and conversations about travel can cause arguments.
But avoid arguments and conflict in front of your children. Do not say negative things about the children’s other parent in front of them. Be prepared to make compromises without complaint.
Attorneys can help prepare a custody agreement that is fair and reasonable and address the children’s best interest. They can also assist couples with dealing with issues after the divorce.