Surviving the Holiday Season: Managing Visitation and Custody Arrangements
Through the eyes of a child, he or she sees mom and dad getting Thanksgiving dinner ready, setting table places, sharing funny stories, getting Christmas ornaments assorted, and picking out the biggest tree. Through the eyes of a child, mom and dad live in the same house, eat dinner at the same table and ride in the same car; a perfect world in the eyes of a child. The reality of this picture is that the world is not perfect and sometimes parents don’t live in the same house. They are divorced or separated and far from the perfect world their child may have envisioned.
In the State of Arkansas, there are various types of child custody agreements in which a Court may allow parents to enter. However, custody and visitation will be awarded under the umbrella of the best interest of the child. There are several of the Circuit Courts that have a standard visitation schedule. Generally, parents will be ordered to rotate Spring Break, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day each year.
When parents live in different states, schedules can be adjusted to fit the needs of the child first and to be fair to the parents. This time of the year, visitation may become difficult, as one parent may want extra time on Thanksgiving Day, while the other parent may wish to have Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and the child just wants both parents together.
Whether your visitation arrangements are Court ordered or an agreement between parents, here are some tips to consider during the holiday season:
- It is important for children to spend time with both parents.
- Consider ways to reduce cost/time while traveling.
- Ensure both parents are aware of the schedule, including any last minute changes.
- Make sure your children are aware of the schedule to avoid any unwanted surprises.
- Have a visitation order by the Court or an agreement between the parents written down and easily accessible.
- Just breathe and relax.
In some families, parents may not be able to spend the holidays with their children due to distance, military, employment, etc. If this is the case, a parent may consider choosing an alternative method of visitation such as FaceTime, Skype, or some other video messenger. Remember, it is important for the child to spend time with both parents. Creating a loving atmosphere where the child can develop and be comfortable with separate homes may not be perfect, but easier.
If you decide to petition the court for child custody, visitation, or to modify an already agreed order, it will be beneficial to seek legal counsel from an experienced Arkansas family law attorney who will be able to assist you.
Tripcony, May & Associates provides services in child custody, visitation, divorce, grandparent rights, and other family law matters throughout the State of Arkansas. They currently have two locations in Little Rock and Hot Springs, Arkansas. Please contact one of their offices for a free consultation at (501) 296-9999, between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
About the Author: LaTrenia A. Ceasar, MSLS, Freelance Writer, has been an employee at Tripcony, May & Associates since 2015.