The parenting plan is an important document for parents post-divorce, as it outlines important aspects of child rearing that the parents agree on, child custody, and visitation schedules. Perhaps most importantly in this season, the plan can also dictate division of holidays. Many couples use different methods when deciding who will spend which holiday with the children. Some use an alternating method that basically means one parent has a holiday one year and the other parent gets it the next year. Another approach is to split time on the same day so that children get to spend it with both parents. But what if there is no parenting plan or one parent wants to make a change to it? Negotiation is key in this situation.
When requesting a change in the joint custody schedule, the parent making the request must realize that it is highly possible their request will be denied. Approaching a negotiation with regard to these matters means being ready to accept a “no” without letting it destroy the holidays for everyone. Keeping that in mind, it is also essential not to divulge a change in plans with children without confirming anything with the other parent. This puts too much pressure on the children and ruins the holiday for them when promises are not kept.
It is also important to consider how many adjustments one has asked for recently. How many times have plans changed previously and for whom? If one parent has asked for an adjustment a number of times in a row, then it might be difficult to get their request approved again. Similarly, the person asking for an adjustment should be ready to compromise by making concessions elsewhere in the schedule to get the schedule one wants.
It is difficult to revisit a parenting plan once final decisions have been made, especially during the holiday season when most people are feeling emotionally charged. As difficult as it may seem, parents must remember they are trying to make the holidays special for their children and try to minimize conflict as much as possible.