The holidays can be a difficult time of year for parents who share custody of a child. Often, dividing time with the child is upsetting, and sharing custody presents some complications when it comes to things like giving gifts, attending family holiday functions and traveling.
These complications and the confusion of a new custody arrangement can result in serious conflict if a parent violates a custody agreement. As such, there are some common missteps every parent should avoid in the coming weeks.
Misstep #1: Failing to prepare when traveling
Whether you are traveling with or without your child this holiday, preparation is essential. If you are going somewhere without your child, ensure the other parent can contact you in case of an emergency with your son or daughter. You should also confirm any changes to your custody schedule resulting from your time away.
If you are traveling out of Pennsylvania or the U.S. with your child, you must have permission from the other parent or the courts. Carry your parenting agreement or court order with you, as well as your child’s passport, if necessary. Provide the other parent with your itinerary if you want him or her to be able to reach you.
Misstep #2: Violating your custody order
Your Pennsylvania custody order outlines several key elements of your agreement, including the holiday schedule. You must comply with this order. This can mean picking up and dropping off your child at the agreed-upon times, allowing a child to contact the other parent or grandparents with visitation and complying with requirements like drug or alcohol tests.
If you violate your custody order in any way, you could face serious repercussions, including fines and possible loss of parenting time.
Misstep #3: Making it a competition
Sharing custody during the holidays can become a competition for some parents who try to outspend each other, put each other down in front of a child, and focus more on “winning” the holidays than enjoying them. This can create a toxic and stressful environment.
Instead of making the holidays about the other parent, focus on making memories with your child and appreciating the time you can spend together.
Yes, the holidays are stressful, especially for parents sharing custody. However, they will be over in a matter of weeks, but custody missteps can have long-lasting consequences. As such, it is crucial to avoid these and others this holiday season.