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Do you anticipate a dispute at Christmas as a divorced parent?

The holidays are getting closer and, if you are a divorced parent, you know that the season isn't all about rest, relaxation and fun. It's supposed to be, but your child custody situation can actually make it one of the most stressful times of the year.

As a parent, you want to make it perfect for your children. However, what is "perfect" for one parent likely is not perfect for the other, and this leads to disputes where you and your ex each feel like you just cannot win. To illustrate this, here are three common disputes:

  • Gifts both parents do not agree on: Parents often attempt to one-up each other, to become the favorite parent or even to deliberately buy the children gifts that the other parent does not approve of. Since the children go back and forth between each home, this can be upsetting to the other parent. For instance, if one parent has a no-cellphone policy and thinks the children are too young, but the other parent buys them phones for Christmas, it can cause a dispute. Those phones are also a constant reminder of what happened.
  • How to split up time: Arguably the most common dispute revolves around how much time each parent gets with the kids. Do you want to share the holidays by switching every other year? Do you want to split Christmas day in half? Who gets to see them on Christmas morning? These are just a few of the questions that parents ask, and there may not be easy answers. It's common for both parents to feel upset with how things worked out, especially since this is such an important family time and they each know it.
  • If the kids can travel for the holidays: Another potential issue is holiday travel, especially when the extended family lives out of state. Both parents probably want the children's grandparents to see them over the holidays. Who decides where they get to go? What does the child custody arrangement say about out-of-state travel? If one parent takes the kids to see the extended family, does that mean the other parent loses them for a week or more during the holiday season? Again, it's hard to find an arrangement that feels fair and gives everyone what they want.

When child custody disputes arise this year, you need to know what rights you have, what your custody agreement allows and how you and your ex can work together to find a solution that puts your kids first and ensures that they enjoy the season.

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