Many parents in Minnesota and elsewhere are preparing to navigate their first holiday season after having filed for divorce. All good parents make their children’s well-being a primary focus in child custody proceedings. However, many issues can arise during the holidays that cause high levels of stress for the whole family, especially children, if co-parents are not equipped to peacefully put their child custody agreements into practice.
Incorporate holiday details into a child custody plan
Parents may negotiate the terms of their own child custody agreement in a divorce. They are free to include any details regarding the holidays that they believe will help them avoid legal problems and disputes, such as writing out which parent will have custody on certain days. Parents may decide to share custody on a specific day. For instance, children can spend Christmas morning and early afternoon with one parent, then go to the other parent’s house for late afternoon through evening festivities. What is most important is that parents agree to a proposed plan and that they both adhere to the terms of an existing court order.
Discuss gift giving and other family customs ahead of time
In many households, families celebrate holidays such as Christmas or Kwanzaa, etc., by giving gifts to their children. To avoid the stress of having to make returns due to duplicate presents, co-parents can discuss ahead of time what they plan to give their children so that they are not buying the same gifts. In some cases, co-parents might decide to make gift-giving for their children a joint venture, sharing expenses and adding both of their names to gift tags so that the children retain a sense of family unity at a special time of year.
If a co-parent refuses to follow the rules
Even in households where the nuclear family is still intact, holidays can be stressful. In the months following a recent divorce, a co-parent who refuses to adhere to a child custody order can ruin everyone’s holiday spirit. If a parent refuses to meet at the agreed-upon location and time to exchange custody, for instance, or a parent denies children access to their other parent during a stay at his or her home, it can cause serious legal problems that are difficult to resolve without litigation. Any Minnesota parent facing such issues during the holidays or throughout the year may take immediate steps to seek the court’s intervention to enforce a child custody order.