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It's never too soon to address holiday child custody schedules

Halloween is almost here, and Gig Harbor children are eagerly anticipating pumpkin carving and trick-or-treating. Following soon on the heels of Halloween is Thanksgiving and after that, the winter holidays. It is a busy time of year for many families. The holidays can become somewhat complicated, however, when a child's parents are divorced.

Unfortunately, if a child's parents are going through a contentious divorce or harbor resentment against one another after the divorce proceedings are finalized, developing an agreed-upon child custody schedule for the holidays can be difficult. However, what is most important is to focus on the best interests of the child.

Usually, a parenting plan lays out which parent will have the child on which holidays. However, if a parent anticipates there will be a problem with this schedule and desires a modification, it can help to address the situation ahead of time.

First of all, if there is a parenting plan in place post-divorce, each parent should take a look at their calendar, and evaluate how their normal parenting time compares to their holiday parenting time. This is because holiday time can take precedence over the regular child custody and visitation schedule. It doesn't hurt for parents to consult their attorneys if there are questions about their parenting plan.

If parents do not have a holiday child custody schedule, they will need to work together to create one. Waiting until the last minute to do so may result in a plan that doesn't work very well for either the parents or the child. For example, determine well ahead of time if the parents will alternate having the child during Thanksgiving each year. If parents cannot create their own holiday parenting plan, they will need to turn to the court to do so.

Celebrating the holidays with their child is often important to both parents post-divorce. Parenting plans should address the holidays, so that they can be a time of joy and fun, rather than stress and resentment. By creating a feasible holiday child custody schedule, both the parents and the child can enjoy these special times of the year.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Holiday Parenting Schedule: Make a List and Check It Twice," Nicole H. Sodoma and Robin Goulet, Oct. 25, 2013

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