The Christmas season is a time to spend with family. However, if you have children and are in the process of divorce, the holidays can turn into an incredibly tense time. Given the stress that already accompanies the holiday season, it may be worth the time and effort to create a parenting plan for the Christmas holidays. Doing so not only provides you and your children with some clarity but also reduces the chances of drama between you and your former spouse.
What Is a Parenting Plan?
A parenting plan is an arrangement between parents outlining the time that each parent spends with their children. Typically, in a Tennessee divorce, the court will issue a parenting plan before the divorce is final. Among other things, a permanent parenting plan must:
- Provide for the changing needs of the child as they grow older,
- Establish each parent’s responsibilities,
- Minimize the child’s exposure to harmful parental conflict,
- Provide a way for parents to resolve disputes, and
- Allocate decision-making authority to one or both parents.
However, if your divorce is not yet final, chances are you do not have a parenting plan in place. If not, there may not be an agreement about where the children will spend their time this holiday season. In this case, a temporary parenting plan may be the solution.
Temporary Parenting Plans
Absent a permanent parenting plan, parents can still obtain clarity regarding the time they can spend with their children over the holiday season by obtaining a temporary parenting plan. Tennessee Code § 36-6-403 outlines the procedures for seeking a temporary parenting plan.
If you and your ex-spouse can agree on the terms of a temporary parenting plan, you do not need to file a written document with the court. However, you must put the agreement on the record; otherwise, it is not legally enforceable.
If, however, you cannot agree with the other parent about the terms of a temporary parenting plan, either party can request the court order dispute resolution. In situations where dispute resolution is unavailable, the court may decide to hold a hearing and issue a temporary parenting order.
When either party files for a temporary parenting plan, both parents must submit a proposed temporary parenting plan and a verified statement of income. If only one party submits a proposed plan, that party can request the court adopt their plan. Courts will generally do so, provided that the court finds the proposed temporary parenting plan is in the children’s best interest.
What Goes into a Christmas Holidays Parenting Plan?
Clearly, the easiest way to go about obtaining a parenting plan for the Christmas holidays is to bring up the issue with your former spouse and come to an agreement. When discussing a Christmas holidays parenting plan, it can be easy to get off track. These issues are emotional, and talking through them may bring up other, potentially unrelated arguments. Below are a few tips to help you avoid turning the conversation into a fight.
Limit the Discussion
When talking about a parenting plan for the Christmas holidays with your ex, try your best to limit the topic of conversation to developing a parenting plan. While there may be many other issues on your mind, bringing them up will only detract from your ability to come to an agreement with your ex.
It’s easy to see child custody issues from only one side—your own. However, when you are attempting to come to an agreement about where your children will spend the holidays, remember that both parents’ perspectives should be acknowledged. Take the time to listen to your former partner; it may be that the days they want to spend with the children coincide with your own plans.
Ask Only for What Is Most Important
Remember, a Christmas holiday parenting plan is a temporary agreement that isn’t going to last forever. Therefore, it doesn’t need to end in an agreement where you each have an identical amount of time with your children. If your family has a big Christmas Eve celebration and then relaxes on Christmas Day, consider offering that your ex can have the kids on Christmas Day if you can take them on Christmas Eve. By asking for it all, you may end up creating a more contentious situation.
Don’t Ask Too Many Questions
You certainly want to ensure that your children are safe while they are with your ex. However, asking too many questions about where they are spending the holidays—and with whom—can introduce feelings of jealousy. This can be counter-productive to coming up with the best agreement. If you have concerns over your children’s safety, address them; otherwise, respect the privacy of your ex.
Seek the Assistance of an Experienced Attorney
If you and your ex cannot reach an agreement, that doesn’t mean that creating a holiday parenting plan is impossible. However, it does mean that you may need the assistance of a Tennessee child custody lawyer. By involving a lawyer, you don’t have to engage with your ex. Instead, through your lawyers, you and your ex can come up with a solution that works best for everyone. And, in the event that an agreement isn’t in the cards this year, your attorney can advocate on your behalf, either in mediation or at a court hearing.
Are You Looking to Create a Christmas Holidays Parenting Plan?
If you are in the process of getting a divorce and want to avoid the drama of waiting until the last minute to figure out when you will see your children this holiday, reach out to the dedicated legal team at Batson Nolan PLC. At Batson Nolan, we regularly help parents create effective parenting plans to address their unique situations. Whenever possible, we resolve potential disputes outside the courthouse. However, as experienced litigators, we are prepared to go to court to advocate on your behalf. To learn more and to schedule a free consultation with our attorneys, give Batson Nolan a call. You can also reach us through our online contact form.