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Handling custody and visitation issues during the holidays

No matter how many years have passed since a divorce, or how much the split was wanted by both parties, the holidays can dredge up a wide range of emotions between divorced parents in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, the child or children at the center of a broken family are the ones who will most acutely feel and tension or stress between the parents. There are a number of ways to ease any custody and visitation issues that come up during the holiday season.

In some cases, the divorce was amicable, and the parents can easily share involvement in holiday traditions. Some even have holiday dinners together or find a way to allow their kids to have both parents present for Christmas morning. In most cases, this level of cooperation is not easily attained, and more of a compromise must be made.

It is possible to give children the gift of kindness toward their other parent, especially during the holidays. Children of divorce often move between multiple households during the holiday season in order to spend time with both parents and both extended families. Including the other parent in even a small number of minor holiday interactions can make a world of difference to a child.

As for the actual breakdown of custody and visitation issues following a divorce, the written divorce agreement often clearly outlines when and where the children will be during holidays. In cases where parents cannot agree on the division of parenting time during important holidays, it may be possible to approach a family court and ask that a more structured custody schedule be put into place. While it can be difficult to obtain a change in custody arrangement, in cases in which the child or children are adversely affected by struggles between the parents, Pennsylvania courts will often make changes that serve the best interests of the child.

Source:, "Families and Divorce: Can Joint Custody Mean Thanksgiving With Your Ex?" Pamela Cytrynbaum, Nov. 23, 2012

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