The break-up of a family is never easy for anyone. For both parents, their world’s have been torn apart, and both will have lost so much. Regardless of the situation, and without assigning blame, it is clear that there are no winners. Of course, the people who may be the most affected by this would be the children who are stuck in the middle of it all.
Coming to an arrangement about where your children spend their time is difficult and upsetting. With both parents not wanting to apart from them, disagreements over custody are not uncommon.
Navigating these situations can be tricky as there are a lot of complicated emotions involved, however, an experienced lawyer and Friend of Court (FOC) may be able to help negotiate a fair system that allows both parents to benefit from the child.
An Equal Split
Having an equal 50/50 split can work well for many people negotiating parenting time. If the child spends one week with one parent, and then the next week with the other, that will allow both parents to get a weekend each, and be involved with the day-to-day routine of the child.
The difficulty comes around the holiday season. Who gets the holiday period? Who gets to celebrate the child’s birthday with them? It may not seem fair for the parent who does not get to spend Christmas day with their child.
The ideal situation in any parenting plan is that both parents get the benefit of an equal amount of custody, meaning that both are provided the opportunity take to enjoy their child growing up and to be an important part of their life.
Making The Holidays Work
There are a few ways that you can solve the problem of holiday times, but in order to make them work, both parents need to be in agreement. It is important that throughout the whole process, the needs and feelings of the children are always considered.
It is only fair that both parents get to enjoy spending quality holiday time with their children, however, due to the logistics of the situation and the nature of the relationship, this may not always be possible. For that reason, a compromise will need to be met.
Have Each Holiday Twice
Many families opt to host each holiday twice for the child. That may mean two Christmases a few days apart from each other with one parent hosting their own Christmas a few days before or after Christmas day, and the other parent spending Christmas day with the children.
An option that may work in some circumstances would be to split Christmas. This means that the child spends half of the day with one parent, and then the other half with the other parent. With this option, there are practical concerns that need to be taken on board. Where will the child have Christmas dinner? And importantly, how far apart are the two homes? It would be quite unfair for the children to have to spend too long traveling on Christmas day.
Alternate Each Year
Coming to an arrangement where one parent takes the child one year, and then the child stays with the other parent the next is a very fair and amicable way of managing the situation. It may mean that one parent won’t see the child each year, however, provided this is stuck to, it may prove to be the least disruptive.
Assign Specific Holidays
If there are particular holidays that one parent feels more favorably toward, it might be possible for you to assign specific holidays each year. For example, one parent may take Thanksgiving and New Year, and the other parent may take Christmas and Easter.
Discussing Other Holiday Periods
Agreeing to the main festive period is just part of the puzzle when it comes to solving equal parenting time. The child’s birthday is another significant day, and then there will be a whole range of other dates throughout the year where a parenting schedule will need to be determined.
During school breaks, both parents may have a desire to take the child, or children away on holiday. This is another area that should be decided mutually, allowing both parents the opportunity to take the child away or enjoy a portion of the holiday period at home together.
Coming to an agreement on them all may take some time, but it is important that this is fully discussed with a friend of court present.
What Factors Need To Be Considered?
Of course, there are complexities and factors that can affect the decisions surrounding parenting time. If a child is still very young and is nursing, then this may put limits on the amount of time they can be away from their mother. If there is a risk of abuse or neglect during any of the parenting time, then it may be deemed that visitation or custody rights need to managed or reviewed by the courts. The distance between the two parents’ homes may mean that there will be an excessive amount of traveling that needs to be done. This may make it impossible to sustain a 50/50 split.
You may also want to consider 3rd party time when the child is with neither parent. This may be at times when they are at school or in a daycare, and when the parent that they are with is unable to share quality time with them.
A 50/50 split is found to work best when both parents live within a reasonable traveling distance of each other and are able to communicate with each other in an amicable and cooperative manner. This will only work if both parents are in full agreement on the split.
Once the agreement about parenting time is fully set in place, both parents will need to ensure that they respect this decision and do everything possible to keep to the arrangement. Both parents will need to demonstrate a commitment to putting the needs and interests of the child first.