Holiday plans should be factored into child custody agreements

On behalf of Gary Kirk of Kirk Montoute Dawson LLP posted in Family Law on Friday, January 20, 2017.

Holidays come year round and are am ong the best of times for a lot of Alberta families. Gatherings with loved ones and maybe vacations to far-off places are among the highlights of the season for many. For families split by divorce, however, arguments over child custody arrangements have the potential to turn this time of year into a nightmare.

Scheduling on the fly can be extremely difficult for divided families. Each parent likely wants to enjoy time with the children and to take them to be with family or away for fun times abroad. When agreements can’t be reached or custody arrangements seem unfair, some people turn to the courts to try and get their way.

Many family lawyers report a spike in calls just before and just after holidays. Parents seeking to gain more time with their kids sometimes resort to filing last-minute motions to have custody arrangements altered to suit their plans. This decidedly non-festive behaviour can have a damaging impact on children forced to watch their parents fight over them during the holidays. Clearly, this is not an ideal way to handle the situation.

A better alternative is to pre-decide how holidays are to be handled and put those details into a child custody agreement. Specific arrangements for major holidays like Christmas and Hanukkah are now being mandated in binding agreements with more frequency. By setting schedules far in advance, it may help to preclude any future conflicts.

Both during and after a divorce, parents should always consider what is truly best for their children. Avoiding unnecessary fighting is a good step towards achieving that goal. By working with experienced and committed family law attorneys, Alberta parents can create an agreement that is fair to all involved and which may help to avoid heartache down the road.

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