Raising children is complicated and it gets even more challenging when a divorce or separation is involved. Throw the holiday season into the mix and you’ve got a recipe for disaster – that is, unless, you know how to successfully navigate the holiday season with your ex and your children. There’s a right way and a wrong way to go about dividing up your kids’ time during this festive time of year. Here’s a closer look at what Arizona law has to say about child visitation and custody during the holidays.
Custody vs. Parenting Time
Many parents become confused by the terms “custody,” “visitation,” and “parenting time.” The state of Arizona defines custody as the right of a parent to make decisions concerning the care and welfare of a child. In many instances, both parents are granted this right to “legal decision making” in the lives of their children. Having “custody” over a child does not necessarily mean that you are entitled to having your children for the holidays, however. In addition to custody, the state of Arizona also makes legal determinations about “parenting time” (or visitation). After a divorce or separation, parents are given the opportunity to create a parenting time schedule that makes sense for the family and is in the best interest of the children. This type of agreement should include arrangements regarding which parent gets to spend time with the children on important holidays. Because emotions often run so high when creating a parenting time agreement, however, most parents make the decision to work with an attorney. The Schill Law Group has years of experience in drafting favorable parenting time agreements and is ready to help you create and enforce yours.
Parenting Time and Holidays
Holidays tend to take priority over regularly scheduled parenting time. During the holiday season, parents want to be close to their kids and often want to travel to visit distant relatives and loved ones. This can create conflict in parenting schedules and cause emotional turmoil – both for the parents and for the children. Because of this, it’s very important to be willing to communicate and work with the child’s other parent in order to come up with a visitation schedule that works for everyone. As you, your ex, and your attorney work to create a holiday parenting time schedule, it’s important to keep your child’s interest at the forefront of all decisions. Children enjoy and desire having the chance to spend special time with each parent and set of extended family members. This may mean planning celebrations for different days and times or scheduling planned phone calls or video call sessions.
Parenting Time and School Breaks
The holiday season means prolonged periods of time off from school. As a parent, you want to be able to spend as much time with your children during their school vacation as possible. It’s important, once again, to remember that children want to have the opportunity to enjoy their break with both of their parents. When creating a parenting time schedule, make sure that your lawyer helps you and your child’s other parent to properly divide up school breaks. Some parents choose to make this division by having the child spend weekdays with one parent and weekends with the other. Or parents may prefer to trade off with one another after several days or every other week. Make sure that you are consistent with your schedule so that your children know what to expect.