They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This is certainly true when it comes to sharing child custody after your divorce. A comprehensive, detailed custody order provides for virtually every contingency. Both you and your ex will have a clear picture of who has the kids when, what to expect and how to request changes or enforce your rights.
The holidays are an excellent example of how child custody planning can greatly reduce conflict and misunderstandings. Most divorced Westchester parents want to share the holidays with their kids. But so do their exes. Compromise is necessary so that both parties’ parental rights are respected during a time of year when family traditions are passed down and warm memories are created.
You and your ex have several options for splitting the holidays, including:
- Alternating holidays by year. For example, you could have the children for Thanksgiving and your ex could have custody for Christmas one year. Then you switch the following year.
- Sharing each holiday. If you and your ex still live nearby, you could split some or all of the holidays. Perhaps you could have the kids for Christmas Eve and send them to your ex’s house for Christmas Day.
- Dividing up the holidays. Some holidays might mean more to you than your ex and vice versa, especially if the two of you are from different faiths. If you can agree, you can set up a set holiday schedule that is the same every year. For example, a Jewish parent probably would not care about having custody on Christmas but would want to have the kids for at least a night or two of Hanukkah.
Your solution to sharing the holidays is mostly limited to your imagination, practical considerations like travel and school, and New York’s legal requirement that all child custody orders put the children’s best interests first.