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How can I avoid child custody disputes during holidays?

This is a question that many Michigan parents ask when they have filed for divorce or recently finalized a settlement just before a holiday season. Every family is unique, and even families with marriages that remain intact can suffer high levels of stress during the holidays. However, divorced parents, especially those who are navigating their first post-divorce holiday season, will want to take several precautions to avoid child custody disputes.

Keeping children’s best interests in mind while making decisions about the holidays is a step in the right direction to help parents avoid child custody disputes. When both parents agree to cooperate and work as a team, everyone wins, especially the kids.

More isn’t always better when it comes to child custody and the holidays

It’s good that you and your ex want to treat each other fairly. You might even agree to split the hours of a particular holiday so that you each can celebrate with the kids. What seems like a good idea can sometimes backfire. The kids (and you) may experience exhaustion from traveling between households to celebrate.

Another option is to celebrate the same holiday on different dates. You can also rotate custody for holidays, trading off throughout the year. For example, you get the kids for Christmas and your ex gets them for New Year’s.

Don’t use the holidays as revenge for past marital problems

It might be tempting to “stick it” to your ex to get back at him or her for problems that existed between you during marriage. Perhaps you’re thinking of telling your ex that the kids can sleepover for the holidays, then changing your mind at the last minute. This type of scheme may not only cause anger, but you could also find yourself in a heap of legal trouble. This is especially true if you have a court order that specifies where your children are to spend their holidays.

Coordinate gift-giving to prevent child custody problems

The last thing you need during the holidays after you have finalized a divorce is to fight over gifts with your ex. If you used to fight a lot about money when the two of you were married, it’s best to discuss financial issues regarding gift-giving during the holidays. It’s also helpful to let each other know what you’re planning to buy so the kids don’t wind up with duplicate gifts.

If a child custody problem arises during the holidays, try to remain calm and do your best to resolve it without confrontation. If you feel that you can’t handle it on your own, you can seek the court’s intervention.