Attorney, Cordell & Cordell
In an earlier article on divorce, I outlined how to deal with two common holiday parenting time situations: parenting time has not yet been resolved and the first holiday season as a divorced couple.
This article will address dealing with an outdated parenting schedule that is no longer realistic for your family.
Times change, people change, and children’s needs and desires change. If the holiday parenting time schedule you entered into when your kids were toddlers just no longer works for teenagers, but your former spouse doesn’t want to change anything, you need to take action.
Try to get to the heart of her stubbornness. Does she really want time with the children on Christmas Day to spite you? Or is Christmas Day the only day her parents are in town, and the only day the children will see their grandparents during the holiday?
Try to find the root of her requests and be creative to work out a schedule that will allow both of you to enjoy quality time with the kids.
Quality time is quality time, no matter what date it is on. If your children are tweens or teens, no longer believe in Santa and have been through several divorced holidays, they might not mind celebrating the holiday on a day other than the actual holiday.
Ask your children how they would like to spend the holidays in a no-pressure way. Never ask them to choose one parent over the other.
If your ex will not agree to any reasonable schedule, petition the court for relief. In most states, the children getting older is not enough of a change in circumstances to warrant a modification in the custodial arrangement entirely but may be enough to get you in front of the judge on a holiday parenting time schedule.
If judicial relief is not available, working with alternative dispute resolution specialists, such as a mediator or parenting time coordinator, may help create a new schedule that works for everyone.
The most important thing you can do when dealing with an uncooperative spouse is to not let your kids know what is going on.
The holidays are a special time for children, and involving them in power struggles or parent disputes will frustrate them and create bad memories that will last for years to come.
Try to make the holidays as smooth and carefree for your children as you can.
Jill A. Duffy is an Associate Attorney in the Troy, Mich., office of Cordell & Cordell. She is licensed to practice in the state of Michigan. Ms. Duffy received her BA in Psychology and Spanish and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Oakland University. She received her Juris Doctor from Michigan State University College of Law and graduated Magna Cum Laude.
One comment on “Modifying Holiday Parenting Time Schedule”
Holiday Parenting when custodial parent dominates it all
Okay I understand what your article is saying and if both parents were on the same page it would be great! That is rarely the case and here is our situation. Every Christmas we have been told by the ex that she will take them for this that and the other on both the eve and the day of Christmas which gives us approximately 4 maybe 5 hours in a 48 hour period with the kids then throws an absolute fit over New Years access and denies us. That being said this year we did not make it a choice and took kids from 9am 12/24 to 9am 12/25 and then again on New Years Eve and Day as we were getting married that weekend. Here we have the option of a Family Access Motion if we can prove willful interference and it happened again this weekend even after we told her that we are going to take action and even printed out the forms so she could see how serious the issue is in the eyes of the court. She asked on Thursday if I was working this weekend and my wife did not mention that we had our nephews over as a surprise for our daughters just in case plans fell through with my brother so when they did arrive my wife asked if the girls could be dropped off early because their cousins were there to play. I received a nasty NO we already made plans with my brother and his wife! First off it’s my weekend with the kids and I was working and my wife was in the midst of a remodeling project but took time out of that to make a great weekend surprise for the kids. Second since it is my weekend why is she making plans (which is the core of the problems we are having with visitation and have since the divorce in 2005) on my time regardless of whether or not I worked. If I had been released early or they had called me off work then I should have been able to get my kids so what is the difference? My real problem with the situation is she called the kids and told them about the plans and then told them they couldn’t go! Here is the long and short of it. If you have a remedy in your state USE IT because your children are not possessions! They are your flesh and blood and if you don’t just force a new visitation agreement and/or take action when current agreement is not being adhered to you are an idiot!