Planning the perfect holiday for your children can be stressful, but even more so if you’re sharing custody of your children with your ex. Uncertainty about scheduling, visitations, or any general plans involving your children can take some of the joy out of what’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year.
Here are a few things you can consider and work on with your co-parent to help set up your holiday visitation plan.
Who Gets the Kids?
Being a newly divorced or single parent at a time when your children may be expecting a little extra from you due to the holiday season can be stressful. The biggest question - who gets the kids?
Judges don’t enjoy ruling on which plans for visitation parents should follow for the holidays, which means it’s up to the parents to decide. Depending on the type of custody agreement you and your spouse have, you may need to get an order for visitation.
Legal Custody vs. Physical Custody
The state of Minnesota defines legal custody as the right to make decisions about how to raise your child. Physical custody is referred to as being able to make decisions about the day-to-day activities of the child and where the child lives. If you have joint physical custody, then you and your spouse can make decisions regarding your child together.
If both parents share “joint custody,” then both parties get to decide what their kid’s holiday activities will look like.
Making Your Holiday Plan
Deciding on who will get your children ahead of time can help take some of the stress out of the season, allowing you to enjoy your time. Here are a few tips to use when setting up your holiday plan.
Consider Your Schedules
Make it a point to schedule your visitation ahead of time. Doing this can help you factor in any adjustments you need to make in your daily routine. This includes the following details:
- Your child’s school and extracurricular activities schedule.
- Religious practices of each parent and their family.
- The time needed for travel if necessary.
- The length of the visitation.
Remember Your Holiday Traditions
Divorcing is not only difficult for you as parents but also for your children. If your children are old enough, they will remember and maybe even be accustomed to your usual family traditions.
If you can, prepare a festive environment for them. Doing things such as watching holiday-themed movies, baking treats, or decorating can bring them joy. This can also help them stay focused on your new home environment.
Discuss Your Gift Giving Plan
Arranging gift-giving during the holidays can be stressful no matter what your relationship dynamic is like with your spouse or ex. However, you should discuss with your spouse what gift-giving will look like for the new arrangement.
If you are giving gifts separately, work together to coordinate what gifts you will be giving so that you don’t get the same gifts.
It’s important to let your child know that it’s okay to have new gift-giving traditions. Letting them have a sense of control over their new life can make all the difference and add joy to your holiday celebration together.
Be Prepared for Anything
Whether it’s your first year co-parenting, or you and your ex have co-parented for many years, always be prepared for the unexpected. There are things that can happen that are beyond your control and may prevent you from being able to provide the best holiday ever for your kids. Don’t worry — having a back-up will be your best bet.
For example, if you’re traveling out of town to visit family or friends with your kids for the holidays, try to provide emergency numbers where you can be reached. You should also let your spouse know where you’ll be staying and what your flight details are applicable.
Johnson / Turner Legal
At Johnson / Turner Legal, our Minnesota family law attorneys can help walk you through the divorce process. We offer mediation services and can also help you file for an order modification if your circumstances change. Should you need assistance with your child custody order or visitation schedule, please reach out.