Child Custody and Support Issues During the HolidaysAlthough you may not want to admit it, maintaining a healthy co-parenting relationship with your ex-spouse can sometimes be difficult. Around the holidays, though, your ex-spouse’s actions may just become unbearable. Maybe he just bought your children the latest iPhones for Christmas, even though the two of you agreed not to spend much on the children’s gifts this year. Or maybe she is giving you grief about not letting her take the kids to her parents’ house that year.

Resolving child custody issues can be difficult for parents throughout the year. However, there are certain circumstances during the holidays where child custody issues can become worse for ex-spouses. Whether the holidays are at the end of the year or in the middle of summer, parents may use the holidays to cause disputes with one another about child custody issues or support payments.

One of the common child custody issues that parents experience during the holidays is disagreements about who the children get to stay with. If a divorce decree is still new and the couple has an established visitation schedule, that visitation schedule must be strictly followed, regardless of the time of year. Some parents may feel resentful and depressed if they cannot spend the holidays with their children and may outright ignore the visitation schedule in an effort to spend time with them. If this happens to you, remember that you have a legal order to fall back on.

Because many families travel during the holidays, traveling times may be longer and affect you or your ex-spouse’s ability to drop your children off on time after visitation. But one common child custody issue during the holiday season is a refusal to drop the children off on time after visitation. A visitation schedule is a legal arrangement between two parents that must be strictly followed at all times. This applies whether children have holiday parties to attend, or your ex-spouse’s extended family wants to spend time with the children. If your ex-spouse refuses to comply with the visitation schedule, there may be significant legal consequences waiting for them.

How does holiday travel time spark disagreements between ex-spouses?

Another common issue between ex-spouses during the holiday season is disagreements concerning holiday travel with the children. You and your ex-spouse may have several disagreements revolving around travel during the holidays. You may have an issue with your ex-spouse taking the children out of town for the holidays because that may interfere with your scheduled time with the children. Your ex-spouse may argue that the travel time will interfere with his scheduled time with the children.

What are some common child support issues during the holiday season?

In addition to the child custody issues, parents deal with during this time of the year, there are particular child support issues that cause tension between parents as well. One of the primary issues with child support is that one parent will use the money allotted for their child support payment and spend that money on gifts from them, instead. After all, it all goes to the kids, right?

Wrong. You are still responsible for your child support payment if you spend a lot of money on gifts. You CANNOT choose to purchase gifts instead of paying child support, and you can get into serious legal trouble if you do. Likewise, if your coparent tries to use “But I bought all these presents” as an excuse not to pay child support, you should contact your lawyer immediately. Presents are nice; child support is court-ordered.

What can ex-spouses do to resolve issues during the holidays?

If you and your ex-spouse are dealing with one, some, or nearly all of these child custody issues around the holiday season, there are some healthy ways that you two can resolve them. Depending on the circumstances, a majority of these issues arise from a simple misunderstanding.

You can start with having a conversation with your ex-spouse and bring the terms of the arrangement to their attention in a cordial manner. It’s possible he or she misunderstood, or thought it was okay to bend the rules at the holidays, but it’s important that you not allow this to become a pattern.

If your ex-spouse is aware of the terms but deliberately chooses to ignore them, there are legal actions that you can take. One course of action you can take is reaching out to your divorce attorney or a family law attorney to modify the holiday visitation schedule.

If you or your ex-spouse are late paying the required child support payment, you could see some legal trouble. Some courts will be flexible and work with you or your spouse if the payment is a few days late. However, the courts will begin to notice if you or your ex-spouse have repeatedly submitted late child support payments. You may need to modify the support order if the late payments are truly beyond your control, or go back to court if your ex is just being spiteful.

Divorced parents can trust the Law Offices of Adrian H. Altshuler & Associates to protect their right to child visitation. If you have questions regarding child visitation or child support, call us at 615-977-9370 or complete a contact form to schedule an initial consultation. We represent clients from our offices in Franklin, Brentwood, and Columbia.