Child custody and the holidays: Working through tough times

Many divorced parents are breathing sighs of relief now that Christmas is finally over. However, these sighs of relief may have nothing to do with the end of the busy holiday shopping season or hectic holiday travel schedule, but rather with the end of emotionally draining child custody/visitation disputes.

It’s a simple fact that many divorced couples — particularly those who separated only recently — can experience a multitude of emotions during the holiday season (excitement, anxiety, sadness, or even anger) and that these emotions can lead to child custody disputes.

These disputes may be over major issues such as who gets the children during the holidays (unless already established in a child custody/visitation agreement), or minor issues such as pick-up times or locations.

Fortunately, there are a few ways in which former spouses can limit these arguments and help ensure that their kids enjoy the holidays.

Talk about your holiday arrangements as early as possible

As stated above, your child custody/visitation plan may already grant one spouse time with the kids over the holiday season. Nevertheless, touching base with one another as soon as possible to coordinate dates, times, locations, contact information and other vital information can help you avoid unnecessary anxiety.

Another benefit of these early conversations is that you and your former spouse can amicably discuss how you want to proceed if no holiday plans are firmly in place and give you time to think things over.

Practice patience

Try to resist the temptation to engage in arguments with your former spouse when you become frustrated with the situation. Instead, try adopting a more tolerant approach, listening to what your spouse has to say and entering into a constructive dialogue. This can save you needless aggravation.

More importantly, this approach will also allow you and your children to get more enjoyment out of the holiday season.

Be open to change

If your children don’t get to spend the actual holiday with you, take care not to take it personally. Instead, try to be happy that your children are having fun and connecting with their mother or father.

In fact, consider taking the opportunity to visit family or friends, or to devise your own holiday plans with your kids. By building new traditions, both you and your children can look forward to the holiday season.

Stay tuned for more from our Ft. Worth family law blog …

To learn more about child custody or visitation, contact an experienced and skilled legal professional.

This post is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.


Fox-9, “Divorced? Avoid holiday children tug-of-war” Dec. 1, 2011