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Upcoming holidays pose visitation and child custody challenges

Spokane parents who have gone through a divorce and have children know that the upcoming holidays can bring unique scheduling challenges. Whether parents have joint custody or a different arrangement, the holidays can be a metaphorical tug of war.

Typically, each parent wants to spend time with their child or children on these special holidays. With upcoming holidays, special considerations and time should be taken to figure out a fair parenting plan that can make the holidays special, while still taking into account existing child custody orders.Recently, those Spokane residents celebrating Halloween had to contemplate who would take children trick-or-treating or host parties. For parents who have recently divorced, this first holiday of the season posed potential pitfalls. While Halloween is not as celebrated as perhaps Thanksgiving, Christmas or Hanukkah, it is still important to many families.

Working out a holiday parenting schedule can pose a myriad of potential issues. Depending on the relationship with one's ex-partner, working out holiday visitation can be relatively simple, or it can result in a modification of a child visitation agreement with the court.

Prior to an issued custody order, if parents are able to, they may resolve visitation and custody matters out of court. Parents may have informal negotiations to settle the visitation schedule, and they can have the help of attorneys with the process. As a formality, the court will either approve or deny the agreement prior to becoming finalized.

If a family court hears the divorce proceedings, a judge will determine custody after weighing various factors. A judge will most heavily rely upon the child's best interests. Parenting plans typically will give a time, location and manner of custody -- as well as outlining the exchange. In some cases, the courts can award holiday times, and visitations can alternate between parents each year.

Whether this is the first holiday season as a divorced parent, or if it has become the norm, it is rarely seamless. The emotional difficulties in arranging time together can be draining and make the holidays exhausting. However, with careful planning, and sometimes legal modifications or assistance creating a parenting plan, the holidays can resume to being a special time of joy spent with loved ones.

Source: Huffington Post, "Halloween Co-Parenting: Who Takes The Kids Trick-Or-Treating?," Oct. 30, 2012

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