Child custody: Is a holiday exchange your best option?

Virginia parents who have recently navigated divorce may be worried about the upcoming holiday season. Especially if the co-parents in question tend to disagree about child custody issues, finding a "new normal" for how a particular family celebrates holidays and special occasions after divorce may be quite challenging. Holidays can be stressful even for married couples, so when a marriage breaks up, parents are wise to try to agree on a plan that keeps children's best interests in mind and stress levels as low as possible.

In addition to children and parents, extended family members are also affected by divorce. It is best if the parents discuss things ahead of time, then inform the rest of the family on how the agreed-upon arrangement will unfold. Some parents decide to spend holidays together, so that neither parent has to be away from his or her children.

Such an option may not be viable in some situations, in which case the parents involved might choose to alternate holidays each year. Sometimes, it makes more sense to permanently assign a specific holiday to one parent, such as if only one parent is Jewish or Christian; it would not make much sense for kids to spend Christmas with a Jewish parent or Hanukkah with a Christian parent. The point is that divorce need not necessarily ruin children's holidays, especially if both parents are willing to compromise and cooperate as needed.

Numerous legal issues can arise that can threaten holiday joy. For instance, if a parent keeps disregarding an existing child custody order, it takes away the effectiveness of having a holiday plan in place because success hinges upon both parents adhering to the terms of their agreement. Any Virginia parent who is currently concerned about a custody or child support issue may want to request a meeting with an experienced family law attorney to gain assistance in pursuing a solution before the 2019 holiday season begins.

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