Don't Let the Holidays Turn Into a Child Custody Nightmare

Erin KomadaBy Erin Komada of Scaringi Law posted in Family Law on Thursday, November 19, 2015.

As the holidays approach, many parents take it for granted that they'll spend time with their children - but estranged parents sharing custody should never make that assumption.

If you and your ex are at loggerheads over holiday visits, talk to an experienced family law attorney who can help you reach a compromise that doesn't spoil what should be a joyous time of year.

Then negotiate a forward-looking custody agreement with stipulations that take into consideration family funerals, reunions, weddings, birthdays, vacations and other special trips and occasions.

Even exes who get along are well advised to work out a custody agreement to avoid misunderstandings that can lead to bigger problems. Keep in mind that only the items and stipulations contained in a child custody agreement approved by a judge are enforceable.

No one benefits from a bitter custody dispute, least of all the children. Drafting an agreement that anticipates as many circumstances as possible will save time, money and heartache.

Custody agreements crafted for when life happens

In short, a cookie-cutter custody agreement just won't do.

Experienced family law attorneys spend as much time as necessary discussing the lives of their clients before drafting a single line in a custody agreement. A customized custody order contains numerous stipulations for when the normal shared custody schedule will be superseded and overtaken by specified events.

When parents have shared custody, they essentially enjoy equal parenting rights. That means that arriving at a mutually acceptable custody agreement is all about give and take. Should you request a stipulation to have your child for the funeral of your parent, sibling or other close family member, it is only right to give the other parent the same consideration.

Custody agreements can have stipulations to cover just about anything and everything. Say dad goes on a camping trip the same week every summer. If this is his top vacation priority in drafting the custody agreement, then mom can ask for her top stipulation next. The process goes back and forth until all circumstances are covered - right down to assuring that the child spends Mother's Day with his mom and Father's Day with his dad.

At the end of the process, you, your former partner and your child have a custody agreement that works in real life.

Extended vacations can be tricky

The most popular shared custody rotation has parents splitting time in some fashion during the week and then having their child on alternating weekends. When it comes to scheduling vacations, a full week away is usually the most time parents are comfortable granting. But what if a parent is planning a trip of a lifetime, perhaps overseas for extended travel?

Negotiating trips that separate the child from one parent for two weeks or longer is almost always difficult to achieve. The parent who is taking the extended trip will surely have to give up similar time to the other parent down the line.

Willingness to negotiate

Only through proper planning, level-headed negotiation and fair-minded compromise can a customized custody agreement come to life. Without a detailed custody agreement that's given the force of law by the court, bitter conflict between the parents can occur.

When parents separate, they are beginning a new life with their child. A custody agreement that anticipates both parents' wants and needs and that always places the child first can hold the promise of positive growth for all involved.

Don't let a custody dispute ruin your holidays.

Contact Scaringi Law attorney Erin K. Komada toll-free at 877-LAW-2555 or email her at


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