Somehow in the glow of Christmas lights and holiday fires, custody disputes can become especially nasty during the holiday season. The fights are usually fueled by good intentions – the desire to spend every moment possible with your children, watching as they open gifts from Santa and “decorate” cookies. The parents’ innocent wish to spend time with their children can quickly become intense and aggressive as parents vie for every minute.
There are steps you can take to spend more time celebrating this holiday season and less time fighting with your ex. Here are the most common causes of holiday custody battles and the best ways to keep the peace and joy in the upcoming holidays:
1. Lack of Agreement
Nothing leaves room for a battle like the absence of a custody agreement. If you struggle to communicate regularly, how can you expect to suddenly make an agreement that leaves everyone happy with family vacations, church services, and holiday parties thrown into the mix?
You need to have an established agreement, and an agreement to agree in the future is hardly that. An agreement will best serve you if it is concrete as to each parent’s time, signed by both parties and respected by both.
2. Poorly Worded Agreements & Custody Orders
Almost as harmful as the absence of an agreement is a poorly worded one. You might think that your holiday schedule with your child(ren) is set because you have an agreement or court order in your filing cabinet, but you might be surprised at the turmoil that ruins your family get-together when your ex calls furiously after interpreting your agreement in a way totally different from your understanding.
You should allow an attorney to review your custody agreement or draft one for you. You might also want an attorney to help you get a clearer custody order from the Court. An attorney can craft a custody agreement with clear and definite times and places of exchange so that you can focus on the good things of this holiday season.
3. Making “Plans” 2 days Before Christmas
Some parents assume that they will figure things out or that plans will fall into place once we approach the holidays, only to be devastated when the opposite happens. Since when does your ex just decide to give you what you want?
It’s best for you and your family to approach holiday plans well in advance. Resolve things early. Even if an agreement can’t be reached as easily as you might have hoped, this provides you with the time and opportunity to get a clear custody order from the Court in time to prepare for the holidays. The Court isn’t open on Christmas Eve, so start thinking and talking about holiday custody now.
4. Impatience and Misunderstandings
Finally, our human emotions cause most of our feuds, and custody battles are not any different. People are often fueled by anger, bitterness, and jealousy, motivating them to take advantage of their exes by using their kids as ammunition. On the other hand, good emotions can bring about battles when not harnessed well; love and desire to spend time with your children can inspire selfishness and intolerance of the fact that your ex wants to see the children, too.
In the spirit of giving and hope, try to be more patient and understanding throughout the holidays. Think of giving your ex precious time with your child rather than your ex ‘taking’ time from you. Foremost, remember that your ex is experiencing the same emotions you are, and try to be as flexible and understanding as you can in light of that.
If you found this helpful, please share it with others. If you find yourself in custody trouble, give us a call at (814) 274 – 8612.
***Legal Disclaimer: The contents of this site are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. No lawyer-client relationship exists until one of our attorneys meets with you and agrees to accept you as a client.