With Christmas just peeking ’round the corner, you might be facing the dilemma that comes with coordinating child visitation during this holiday season.
Eliminate the Stress of Holiday Child Visitation
There’s no reason why coordinating your child visitation schedule should add stress to the holiday season. There are some critical steps that need to be taken to ensure a stress-free custody situation. Before the season kicks off, reflect on which holiday is most important – whether it be Kwanza, Christmas, or Thanksgiving, 4th of July, or Easter. There will have to be some form of give-and-take, but if you can prioritize the holidays for yourself you might find you’re willing to negotiate a little easier. If both you and your co-parent value the same holiday the same amount, you should consider trading off the years. If you live close enough, and it’s not going to cause any drama, you might even want to split the day.
Get the Child Visitation Schedule in Writing Ahead of Time
Like most things with the holidays, managing a child visitation schedule closer to the actual holiday can add to the stress. Your child will also want to know where they are spending which holiday. Putting a plan in place far ahead of time, and putting it in writing will ensure that you aren’t deciding, or negotiating, on child visitation right up until the day before. Keep a record of the schedule, especially if you are trading off years for holidays. Having a plan in writing makes it impossible to forget how the holidays were split up the year prior. That way you can put your energy into actually celebrating the holiday, rather than stressing about who will be where.
Often times, as part of a child custody ruling, a court will rule one parent has “supervised child visitation” rights. Here’s a little more information on what it means for visitation to be “supervised.”
Why “Supervised Child Visitation”?
California’s public policy on child custody is to protect the best interest of a child. And sometimes, based on what has been presented in court, a judge will rule the child only have contact with a parent when a neutral third party is present. Thus, the visitation rights are “supervised.” Reasons Behind Ruling
A judge may rule for supervised visitation for many reasons, such as:
- To allow the visiting parent an opportunity to address specific issues;
- In the case of reintroducing a parent and child after a long absence;
- In the case of introducing a parent to a child;
- A parent has a history of domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, or substance abuse;
- When there are concerns of mental illness; or
- If there is a parental threat of abduction.
A court will order specific times and durations for the visits. The court might also specify who will provide the supervision during these visits.
Supervised Child Visitation Providers
A supervised visitation provider’s main responsibility is to keep the child or children safe during the visit. The provider might be a family member, a friend, or a paid professional. A provider must be present at all times during the visit. Additionally, they are required to listen to what is being said, while paying close attention to the childs ‘s or children’s behavior. If the provider deems it necessary, they may interrupt or end a visit. And legally, all providers must report suspected child abuse.
Types of providers
According to law, there are 2 types of supervised visitation providers:
- Nonprofessional providers – usually family or friend who is not paid to provide their supervision
- Professional providers – trained and experienced with providing supervision. They charge a fee for the service, and are also required to follow a uniform standards of practice.
The court order will declare which type of provider you will be required to have during these visits.
Reasons for Ruling for Supervision
A judge may decide on supervised visitation for many reasons. These can include, but are not limited to the following:
- A visiting parent might need an opportunity to address a specific issue.
- When a parent and child are reintroduced after a long period of absence.
- When a parent is first being introduced to a child
- When a parent has a history of domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, or substance abuse.
- When concerns about mental illness have been expressed
- When there is a potential abduction threat.
In addition to a “supervised” ruling, the court will also order specific times and durations for the meetings. The court will also specify what type of supervision will be required during the visits: either professional or non-professional.
Professional and Non-Professional Supervision
There are two types of supervision: professional and non-professional. Non-professional providers are usually family members or friends. A professional provider is trained and experienced in child visitation visits. For a fee or service, they attend the visits. They also follow a standard uniform of practice.
A provider’s main purpose for attendance is to keep the child or children safe during the visit. They must not only be present the entire time, but are also required to listen to what is being said, while also closely monitoring the child’s or children’s behavior. If the supervisor deems it necessary, they are able to interrupt or end a visit. They are required by law to report suspected child abuse.
Though co-parenting can be difficult, it’s always advised that parents try to work out a co-parenting relationship. Co-parenting is a crucial part of your child’s life. You will not be able to raise a child successfully if you do not get a handle on this. No child wants to see their parents fighting, or feel as if they are being tugged between two sides of a war.
You might need to consult a therapist or lawyer to get some groundwork laid for this new relationship. Bottom line: just try to be adults. You might have to dig deep to find that “adult” in there, and you might not want to, but you have to, for your child’s sake. Find an approach that will work for you (for the both of you) and then start from that point.
Kids Interests First
Putting your child’s best interests above your own are the only way to build a successful co-parenting situation while creating an amicable relationship with your ex. You two don’t need to be best friends that talk a million times a day. You just need to find a way to make this work, kind of like being assigned to a lab partner in high school that you just couldn’t stand. You had to work together to get through the assignment and to get the A+ grade that you wanted. If you could make that work in high school, you can make this relationship work as an adult.
This can be done in a number of ways:
- Work out a method of communication. This can be done through email or text. Being able to write it down helps to create a “paper trail” should there be disputes. But this is also a great way to just remove the emotions and stick to the fact.
- Remove the emotion during interaction – either in person or via communication
- Schedule it out. This means weekly routines as well as vacation and other important events.
- Be flexible
- Commit to being cooperative. This might be a stretch, but you will need to cooperate.
This is not always an easy process, but once you have these basic things under your belt, it will be easier.
Working with a Family Law Attorney
If you’re having trouble working with your co-parent on putting together a child visitation schedule, you might want to consider working with a family law attorney that works with child custody issues. Having a go-between can help ease any tension surrounding negotiations, especially when the negotiations revolve around important family moments like the holiday season.
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