Holiday Visitation

We also know that with the holidays, comes the inevitable stress of the holidays. A constant issue that our clients deal with is holiday visitation. While parents want to see their children for the holidays, this can often be frustrated by a pending divorce case or custody, or even situations where those issues have long been resolved.

So how can you avoid the stress of holiday visitation, so you can focus on the other aspects of the holidays? Here are some tips that we recommend:

  • Be diligent. If you are in the middle of a custody or a divorce case, you may not have a written agreement regarding Thanksgiving, Christmas or Hanukkah. You may not be think about it until November or December hits, and by then, it is usually too late to go into court and order the holiday visitation schedule. While you may think it is an emergency not be able to see your kids over the holidays but the court does not agree. In their opinion, you had months to bring this issue up, and should have.

  • Be reasonable. What have your traditions been up to this point? Have you visited with your family every Christmas Eve, and your spouse’s family every Christmas? If so, it might be prudent to enter into an agreement where you get every Christmas Eve, and your spouse gets every Christmas. Other families might want to alternate Christmas every year.

  • Be specific.   Indicating specific dates and times is key.  If one parent has Christmas Eve and the other has Christmas Day, think about what time the exchange will be. Some people would interpret that the exchange would be Christmas Eve evening, while others would think the exchange would be first thing Christmas Day morning.

  • Consider other aspects of visitation.

    • Winter Break. Typically, kids get two weeks off for winter break. Consider how this will affect the holiday visitation you have in place, and if it is worth changing the schedule to minimize transporting your kids back and forth.

    • Long weekends. If you and your spouse have agreed that Thanksgiving weekend shall always be Thursday – Sunday, be wary of a parent who unintentionally may get three weekends in a row of visitation, and leaving the other parent with no visitation for three weekends.  A simple solution is to include in the parenting agreement that if this should happen, the parties will reach an agreement for alternate visitation or swap weekends.


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