As the temperature dips, the leaves fall, and the Halloween costumes are safely stored away, many begin to look forward to the Christmas season. You have made a shopping list for gifts and have pulled out your trusted recipe box and have begun to plan a delicious Christmas dinner. Perhaps you have lovingly brought out the box of ornaments in anticipation of decorating your tree. So what does all this have to do with child custody and child access?
What have you done to ensure that you will have the opportunity to spend time with your children during Christmas? Where will the children spend Christmas Eve? Where will the children spend Christmas morning? Who will attend to the transportation between the homes?
Christmas is a time to rejoice, enjoy good food, and spend quality time with one's family. When parents are separated or divorced, Christmas can be a time of stress, despair and tears. Some parents can be vengeful, and seek to deny the other parent the opportunity for family time. For separated or divorced parents, it is important to carefully plan the Christmas family time.
Planning means considering the following:
- Do you have a separation agreement or a court order?
- Check to ensure that time with your children on Christmas is set out in these documents.
- Are the terms really clear or are they open to differing interpretations?
- If you anticipate resistance from the other parent, does the order or agreement have a dispute resolution provision and an enforcement provision?
- If your former partner is likely to refuse you access, who can help you behind the scenes to resolve issues before you go to a lawyer? Are there neutral family members or clergy who can intervene?
If the above bullet points do not lead you to a quick solution, then consider the following:
- Do not wait until days before to organize your time with the children. The time to ensure Christmas access is now.
- If you anticipate problems, then consult with a family law lawyer. There are legal remedies to enforce Christmas access.
- A family law lawyer can plan the appropriate steps whether in court or out of court to ensure that you have the opportunity to spend meaningful time with your children this Christmas.
- The important point is to take steps now. Don't leave it until the week before Christmas.