For many divorced parents entering the holiday season, it is important to create a holiday visitation schedule that feels natural and comfortable for their child – without tension or parental disputes detracting from the child’s enjoyment. Creating a consistent, reliable schedule with few surprises or last minute changes can help minimize stress for all parties involved. For parents who are still engaged in custody litigation when the season comes around, it may be necessary to begin talks about a tentative holiday visitation arrangement, even if this is not the final arrangement when custody proceedings conclude. As in all cases, the best interest of the child should be the chief priority, ensuring their enjoyment is not infringed upon by divorce proceedings or clumsily arranged visitation agreements.
Coordinating Child Custody During the Holidays in New Hampshire
Generally speaking, neither parent wants to forfeit time with their child during the holidays. Thankfully there are a number of ways to efficiently and painlessly coordinate the holiday season with your child’s co-parent. New Hampshire law stipulates that a child visitation schedule needs to contain a regular residential schedule, which establishes the child’s routine visits and sets how their time will be divided between parents. It is also necessary to create a holiday schedule, vacation schedule, provisions for extended weekends, and if necessary, a supervised visitation schedule.
The holiday schedule includes birthdays, father’s day, mother’s day, and any other observed holidays. These schedules are agreed upon by both parents during custody proceedings. If a conflict arises between the holiday schedule and the regular schedule (if, for example: the parents each get the child every other week, Christmas falls on the mother’s week but the father is expected to have the child over Christmas) then the holiday schedule outranks the regular schedule.
Alternating Holidays Between Parents
The most common arrangement parents reach is to alternate holidays between them each year. For example, Christmas on even years would be spent with the mother and Christmas on odd years would be spent with the father. This allows each parent the opportunity to spend the full holiday with their child.
Another form of ‘holiday alternating’ is to have fixed holidays be spent with a given parent. For example, Easter, Thanksgiving, New Year’s Eve could be consistently spent with the father every year, while birthdays and Christmas be consistently spent with the mother. It is up to the parents to decide which arrangement suits them best and to also consult the child if he or she is old enough to express a preference and provide input.
Tips For A Smooth Holiday Season While Sharing Custody
Communication and effective planning are key even if the holiday schedule was pre-arranged during divorce and custody hearings. This can help eliminate stress and tension down the line. If it is your first post-divorce holiday season, do not let the prospect of new traditions scare you. Perhaps the best thing you can give to your child this holiday season is flexibility, support, and understanding – as they too adapt to new traditions.
A great deal of tension can be avoided if a solid, reliable holiday visitation schedule is set forth during custody proceedings. The best thing a parent can do is retained an attorney skilled in New Hampshire family law to guide them through this process and fight for a visitation schedule that does not cheat them out of time with their child. If you are going through a divorce, contact the dedicated, aggressive Family law lawyers at Tenn And Tenn, P.A. who will fight for your right to be with your child.