How to Handle Holiday Parental Visitation when Separated or Divorced

Uncontested Divorce Mediation

Posted November 23, 2022

The holidays are an important time for family to spend time together, even if only for short and meaningful visits. For divorced parents, scheduling holiday parental visits is not just compliant with your Denver divorce mediation agreement, it’s important for your children. Statistics have proven that children need both their parents. This maintains their sense of stability. Having a good relationship with each parent supports a positive view of themselves as half of that parent, and likely to resemble them in the future.

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At Split Simple, we know that every family situation is different, but children emotionally need support from those who have raise them, especially around the holidays. No matter what the emotional context of your relationships may be, it’s important that children spend time with parents, guardians, and lifetime caregivers who have provided their sense of identity and security while growing up. As long as all parental visitation is safe and loving, families can and should work together to make them possible.

But you don’t have to figure it out solo. There are several models of parental visitation that work and may fit your family’s schedule, situation, and needs.    

Holiday Parental Visitation

Parental visitation is traditionally and often legally mandated time that a parent can spend with their child, whether they have custody or not.

Split custody often also includes split holiday plans, but parental visitation can take a different form, where one parent spends just a few hours with the children as their guardian or as a guest in the children’s permanent home. 

Limited Time vs Limited Access

It’s also important to differentiate between limited time and limited access. Most co-parents have limited time during parental visitation, but going out to dinner, an adventure, or staying the weekend are all perfectly fine. The children may have a second holiday with their visiting parent, share a long outing, or host them at the children’s home. This is also true with split custody where one parent cedes most of the holiday, but has time for a shorter visitation with the children due to their own schedule.

With limited access, there are some parents that need supervision when with their children. They may be medically unwell and therefore not an able guardian or someone prone to erratic behavior. Parental time is still important, but these situations may call for hosted-only visits.

Co-Parents, Grandparents, and Guardians

One should also consider all of a child’s lifelong caretakers. While statistics favor children who have a strong relationship with both parents, the parental roles are not always both birth parents. A child raised by their grandparents, foster parents, aunt, or older cousin will still form a parental bond with the person who raises them. A strong and long-standing bond with the child should be considered when making holiday visitation plans. 

Going Out for Dinner

The most traditional way to schedule a short holiday visitation is a dinner outing. With or without supervision, the visiting parent can take their children out to a restaurant and have a nice time together. Children get a chance to have a pleasant dinner conversation with their parent, try the foods they like, and share a holiday evening together.

The Holiday Weekend

For divorced parents that are used to swapping weekends, a holiday weekends is  the easiest solution to sharing visitation over the holidays. Divorced families that swap holiday weekends also typically work well within everyone’s work and school schedules. It is also normal to have two different holidays based on when everyone can spend time together.

The holiday weekend can be a fun event to plan for. Children often get excited about the chance to have an extra holiday.

Separate Holiday Shopping Trips

Daytime visitation outings can include holiday shopping trips to local malls and outlets. Co-parents who work together often coordinate taking the kids to get gifts for respective family members so that all bases are covered and the kids have a great time going shopping with both parents.

Holiday shopping trips, like going out to dinner, can be done solo or supervised, and include multiple adventurous elements like stopping to see a movie, play mini-golf, or trying on kiosk sunglasses.

Swinging By on Christmas Day

There are many situations where a parent may swing by on Christmas day. Those who are extremely busy around the holidays may steal an evening or lunch break just to share presesnts and hugs before they have to run again. Some share custody over the holidays, but it really matters to them to see their child once (or the child makes a special request) for a short visitation on Christmas day. And if a parent can only manage one short visitation during the season, they may want to make it on that one special day.

If that visit’s time window can be predicted, it is courteous to try and be available to host so that the parental time can happen. Even a short visit to touch base and trade hugs on a special day can matter a great deal to children in the short and long term.

Facetime Parental Visitation

When a parent can’t be there in person, they can often be there online. FaceTime or Zoom parental visitation is an increasing trend and can help keep family ties strong at long distances – and very limited schedules. Often, a parent who can’t travel to visit during the holidays can still spare an hours – maybe several hours – to spend with their child on a video call.

In fact, children can potentially get a lot more time with parents using this method, from holiday visits to bedtime stories and homework help.

Adapting Your Holiday Visitation Agreement Over Time

Lastly, don’t forget that families, situations, and schedule availabilities can change. If your original Denver divorce mediation and custody agreement no longer fits the visitation needs of your family but the old terms are being enforced, you can submit an update at any time.

At Split Simple, we can help you mediate a custody agreement based on what is best for your family. Contact Split Simple today to learn more.

Split Simple

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Denver, CO 80202