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Why It’s Important to Plan Your Holiday Visitation Schedule in Advance

The holidays can be a busy and stressful time for families. There will always be decisions you leave to the last minute, like what to make for the holiday bake sale or when you need to hit the road to get to grandma’s house. However, there are some things you must plan, and that includes your child’s holiday visitation schedule. Leaving your holiday visitation plans to the last minute does nothing but cause you, your child, and your ex-spouse stress and potentially resentment.

At The McKeon Law Firm, we want to impress upon you the importance of planning a holiday visitation schedule that can keep the holiday season merry and bright, not dark and stressful.

Why You Need to Plan Ahead

There is a lot of running around that happens during the holiday rush. You can make this time less stressful for you, your child, and your family by having a visitation plan before the holidays. Why? What if you plan to travel with your child for Christmas and purchase airline tickets only to find that your ex-spouse gets custody during part of the time you are away? What if you are arranging holiday get-togethers but can’t get an accurate head count because you are confused about your holiday visitation schedule?

The holiday season gets jam-packed. You cannot properly plan for what’s to come without knowing your child’s visitation schedule. You also don’t want to be caught in an unfortunate legal situation because you inadvertently violated the terms of a prearranged court-ordered custody arrangement.

Common Ways to Create a Holiday Visitation Schedule

How can you, your attorney, and your family create a fair holiday visitation schedule? Consider some of these common methods for drafting a holiday visitation arrangement:

  • Alternative holidays every year – Some families prefer to alternate holidays every year, meaning that one year, a parent gets their child for Christmas, and the next year, it is the other parent’s turn to celebrate Christmas with the child.
  • Split the holidays – Parents may opt to split the holidays in half. This works when parents live near one another, so the child spends the holiday morning with one parent and the evening with the other.
  • Assign fixed holidays – If certain holidays are more important to one parent versus the other, you may choose to assign fixed holidays to each parent. For example, maybe one parent prefers to celebrate Thanksgiving every year but couldn’t care less about New Year’s Day. You can divide holidays by personal preference when both parents agree. 

Custody Agreement Modifications

Some parents can get by by making casual holiday visitation schedules. As long as both parents agree to the terms of the holiday schedule, many couples find that a casual holiday schedule suits everyone’s needs. However, in cases where couples don’t communicate well or have a contentious relationship, it may be necessary to request modification of a current custody agreement.

The burden is on the parent requesting the modification to demonstrate why a modification is necessary and is in the best interest of the child. Factors that can lead to a custody modification can include a substantial change in circumstances or financial situation.

Need Help Planning a Holiday Visitation Schedule? Contact a Family Law Attorney

Do you need help making the holidays as stress-free as possible? Discuss drafting a child custody or holiday visitation plan with an experienced family law attorney at The McKeon Law Firm. Our compassionate legal team will work to help you share the joy of the holidays with the ones you love. Contact our Maryland office today at (301) 417-9222 to arrange an initial consultation.


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