The holidays are stressful enough without having to try to figure out visitation time with your children. Planning holiday visitation can create problems not only for divorced, or divorced spouses, but also for children.

We offer the following tips to help you take some of the stress out of planning visitation with your children for the holidays.

1. Plan ahead – If you haven’t done so already, you need to start talking about holiday visitation now. Trying to get a judge to hear a holiday dispute at the last minute will prove nearly impossible.

If you think you might have to go to Court to have a decision made about holiday visitation, call an attorney immediately. Also, the earlier you start talking about holiday visitation the less stress you will have. The holidays are stressful enough so don’t wait to plan your holiday schedule.

2. If you already have a plan, keep a copy handy – just like finding a judge may prove difficult during the holiday season, finding your lawyer may also be a challenge.

Many lawyers take extended time off during the holidays or have shorter office hours. If you have a copy of your holiday plan, keep it handy. If you need a copy of your holiday schedule, call your attorney right away to ensure you have it well in advance of the holidays.

3. If you don’t have a holiday plan, create one – Some families choose to alternate holidays every other year. If you got the kids for Thanksgiving this year, next year will be the other parent’s turn. Having a regular plan to fall back on can eliminate the potential for what is fair.

4. Be specific – make sure your holiday schedule has specific times and days for exchanges. If you say your are getting the kids for Christmas, that may be confusing.

Does that mean Christmas Day, Christmas Eve or the Christmas break? Does it mean overnight or just for the day? When creating your schedule being specific about the times and days of exchanges will help avoid confusion and possibly additional court battles later.

5. Be flexible and compromise – Consider your work schedule and the possibility of travel. If you work on the holidays, there is no point in taking the children if they will just be sitting home alone on Christmas.

If you plan to travel for the holidays, let your spouse know and see if you can compromise on taking the children out of town. Remember, the easiest holiday schedule for everyone may require some changes from the normal visitation schedule.

It may be hard to break long-standing traditions, but developing new traditions can help to reduce the stress.

6. Ask the kids – Find out what it is important to your kids. They may have a holiday gathering that holds a special place for them; if this is the case you should try and accommodate them if it makes sense.

7. Choose you battles – Some holidays are more important than others to you. Don’t fight for a holiday for the sake of fighting. If you don’t really care about a holiday, there is no harm in allowing the other parent to spend time with the children.

8. Take a breath – The holidays can be very stressful even if you aren’t divorced, so remember to take a moment to relax and enjoy all of the holiday festivities. Enjoy the company of friends and family and don’t let yourself get overwhelmed.

Post by: Molly Rosenblum