Kevin Qualls Family Law
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Now's the time to review your holiday child custody plan

The winter holidays are upon us, and for many in California it is a time for family. However, for parents who are divorced the holiday season becomes a lot more complicated. When the couple divorced, they may have included a holiday child custody schedule in their parenting plan. Now is a good time to review that schedule, perhaps with the help of an attorney, so everyone, including the child, knows what to expect.

Some divorced parents decide to divide up the hours of the day of the holiday equally, so the child spends time with each of them on each holiday every year. This arrangement does take a certain amount of planning and cooperation on the part of each parent. It also makes the holidays more hectic. So while it may work for some parents who truly value spending time with their child on each holiday, if there are conflicts between the parents it could actually be quite stressful.

For these reasons, sometimes parents decide to create a holiday schedule in which they alternate holidays each year. So, for example, mom will have the kids on Christmas one year, and dad will have the kids on Christmas the following year. Of course, this means that one parent will not be with their child on certain holidays each year, which can be disappointing. One way to handle this is for the parent who will not have the child during a certain holiday to celebrate that holiday with the child on a nearby date when he or she does have custody of the child.

One unusual method for scheduling child custody during the holidays is for each parent to celebrate the holidays together with the children, as they had when they were married. This method may only work out if each parent is very committed to co-parenting and are on very amicable terms with one another.

In the end, during the holidays the focus should be on the child. Reviewing the holiday schedule in one's parenting plan can help parents plan accordingly. In addition, a thorough review can unearth any issues that might require a modification of the child custody schedule. If a modification is necessary, an attorney may need to be consulted.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Putting Children First: The Best Gift Divorced Parents Can Give Their Children This Holiday Season," Randi L. Rubin, Jan. 20, 2013

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