Family law: Document negotiated parenting over the holidays

This holiday period is a very special time of the year for most people in Ontario and elsewhere. In many cases, it is also a particularly challenging time for divorced parents and their children. Each parent typically wants to spend as time as possible with the kids, and working out who will have them on which of the holidays can be tricky. While family law requires these agreements to be set in parenting plans that are approved by the court, unanticipated circumstances sometimes require changes at the last moment.
Trying to file modification requests with the court at such short notice will do no good. Parents who can sit down and discuss necessary changes to parenting time over the holidays may do so as long as they make sure both parents agree. It is also imperative to document alternative arrangements for the event of later contention and possible litigation.

If the relationship between former spouses is strained, it may be wise to use the services of a qualified family law mediator. A neutral third-party mediator can facilitate negotiations about how to allocate parenting time over the holidays. Through conversation and compromise — when necessary – the parents may reach mutual agreements.
It is important to handle changes to parenting time over the holidays in a manner that will not give rise to conflict. The most appropriate way may be for each parent to utilise the services of their respective family law lawyers. The lawyers can be present during mediation sessions, and they can help with the drafting of an agreement that will protect the right of both parents while not compromising the best interests of the children. Ontario parents who can come to agreements on these matters without relying on court rulings may feel empowered and ready to continue peaceful co-parenting in the future. Source: FindLaw, “Legal How-To: Modifying Holiday Child-Custody Plans Out of Court“, Brett Snider, Accessed on Dec. 14, 2016

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