By: Sarah T. McCain
Sharing child custody after a divorce can be especially difficult around the holidays. Both parents want to ensure the protection of their custodial rights. If you and your partner are getting a divorce, plan for how you will divide or share custody and visitation around the holidays. If you already have a plan in place but wish to modify it for the holidays, hire an attorney for assistance with the legal process.
What to Do If the Current Schedule Isn’t Working?
One or both parents can try to renegotiate a custody or visitation schedule for the holidays in Colorado. Renegotiation requires the proper legal processes, however. It is against the law for one parent to change a court-ordered custody or visitation schedule without approval by the other parent or a judge. If you do not agree or approve of your current holiday visitation schedule, you may be able to negotiate something different with your ex-spouse. You will need to work together and communicate with your ex on creating a new visitation schedule for the holidays to achieve a settlement.
If your ex-spouse does not agree to renegotiate the holiday visitation schedule, you can take the matter to court. This will entail filing a Motion to Modify Parenting Time pursuant to C.R.S. 14-10-129. Note that you will have to prove the modification is in your child’s best interests for a judge to approve a new schedule. When needing to file such a motion, it’s wise to think about the timing of such mapped up with the major holidays. Courts do not move quickly and several months could lapse between filing and a hearing on your motion. While’s it’s generally better to negotiate a new schedule with the other parent, agreements cannot always be reached.
Before spending money and time on attorneys and court, see what you can do to resolve holiday visitation with the other parent on your own. Improve the odds of changing an existing holiday visitation schedule or creating a schedule that works for you during a divorce by settling the matter with your ex-spouse. A divorce settlement means you and your ex will remain in control of the final child custody and visitation schedule. You will both have the chance to express your wishes and work together on creating a holiday schedule that works for everyone. You can improve your chances of a successful settlement with a few negotiating tips.
- Learn about the child custody and visitation laws in your state.
- Prepare your arguments and related supporting documents ahead of time.
- Be calm, polite, respectful and open-minded during negotiations.
- Manage your emotions and set realistic expectations.
- Take the time to listen to your spouse and respond to his or her concerns.
- Be open to a different outcome than what you expected.
- Stick to the topic at hand rather than mixing issues.
- Negotiate in front of a mediator, if necessary.
- Hire a lawyer if you think you need one to protect your parental rights.
Choose your battles – if a certain holiday is more important to you than the others, fight for it. Otherwise, be open to compromising with your spouse to make negotiations easier. Successful negotiations could lead to a holiday custody or visitation schedule that works for the whole family, without needing to take the matter to court. This can save you time, money and stress. It can also keep matters more within your control, as you will not have any say in the final outcome of a court battle.
How Can an Attorney Help You With a Holiday Visitation Schedule?
Family law attorneys should be skilled both in and out of the courtroom. Most custody and visitation matters can benefit from a lawyer’s input, especially if you find it difficult to communicate or negotiate with your ex. A parenting time attorney can help you come to an agreement with your ex-spouse, allowing you both to avoid a trial. If negotiations don’t work your attorney will be there to advocate for you throughout the court process, through trial. The holidays can be a stressful time for divorced parents, with emotions running high. Hiring a lawyer to represent you can make negotiating a holiday visitation schedule easier on the whole family.