Your marriage is in the past, but you still spend time communicating with your ex-spouse. And that’s because you’re co-parenting your children.

This can bring many challenges to your life, often when you least expect it. However, there are also times, such as the holiday season, when you know that you’ll have questions to answer, issues to address and potential fights to battle.

Here are some tips for successfully dealing with child custody and visitation during the holidays:

  • Fall back on your parenting agreement: When you created your parenting agreement, there’s a good chance you included provisions for the holidays and other special events. It may outline who gets to spend which holidays with your children. If it does, this should give you all the direction you need.
  • Talk to your ex in advance: The biggest mistake people make is neglecting to communicate their wishes in advance of the holiday season. For instance, if you have a special request for Christmas Day, don’t wait until Christmas Eve to bring it to light. The more time you give yourself, the easier it is for you and your ex to work something out.
  • Split the day: If you’re unable to reach a resolution and your parenting agreement doesn’t provide guidance, it may be best to split each holiday (if possible). For example, you could spend Thanksgiving morning with your children while your ex spends the evening hours with them. It’s not ideal, but it gives you the opportunity to spend some time with your children. And even more importantly, it gives your children the opportunity to spend time with both parents.

With some holidays, you may find yourself dealing with extreme circumstances, such as if your ex wants to take your children on a trip. Should you face this type of situation, collect as much information as you can and consider the best way to proceed.

The holidays are supposed to be a fun time of the year. Don’t let child custody and visitation issues get in the way. Review your parenting agreement, talk to your ex and do whatever it takes to protect your legal rights.