Regardless of how recent a divorce is, families in Virginia living separately often deal with a mixed bag of emotions during the holidays. Since this is usually the time when kids have more time off from school, there’s often an increased need to shuffle them back and forth between two homes. Add family gatherings and other obligations and traditions to the mix and it’s easy to see why parents are advised to have a clear plan in place to reduce holiday stress as much as possible.
With parenting time, divorced couples are encouraged to put their children first. Some parents may benefit from developing a strong support network that includes friends, loved ones or a therapist so that they don’t let lingering animosity affect arrangements. Punishing a former spouse by not letting them see their child during the holidays, for example, does more harm to the child than the other parent. A more productive approach is for parents to work out details about which days each parent will be with the child in advance.
Children tend to do better with split parenting time when they are told what they can expect. Parents can help by encouraging their children to have fun during the time spent with the other former spouse. Discussions with children about their holiday interactions with the other parent when they return from visits tend to be more effective when they are done in a supportive, nonjudgmental manner. It’s also advised that parents avoid attempts to compete with one another concerning holiday plans and presents.
If there are serious issues with parenting time that can’t be worked out amicably between parents, a lawyer may suggest making a modification to an existing agreement. The role of a family law attorney in this process is to present compelling evidence to the court showing that the current plan is no longer meeting the needs of the child. Parental relocation, remarriage, changes with school schedules and allegations of unfit parenting are among the common reasons for making changes to parenting plans.