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Why you should sweat the small stuff in your parenting plan

The holiday season can bring added stress on divorced parents -- particularly if they don't have a detailed parenting plan in place as part of their custody agreement.

Of course, it's impossible to predict every potential situation where you'll have to determine who will have the kids when you're developing your plan. However, an experienced Florida law attorney can help you detail guidelines for the ones you can anticipate -- like holidays and the surrounding school breaks.

Even if you and your spouse pride yourselves on remaining amicable throughout the divorce and believe that you'll always be able to resolve any conflicts maturely, it's always best to have a legal document to fall back on in case your relationship changes or even in case there's a misunderstanding.

A detailed parenting plan doesn't have to limit your flexibility. You and your spouse can mutually decide to forgo the specifics of the plan on one or more occasions. Maybe Mother's Day falls on your husband's weekend with the kids. Perhaps his birthday falls during a vacation week when you have them. You can adjust your parenting schedule as you both see fit.

When detailing holiday schedules in your parenting plan, don't forget the details. Don't just say that you have the kids on Thanksgiving and the following day, while their other parent has them Saturday and Sunday. Who's picking them up from school on the day before break? Where are they staying that night? How will they get from one parent's home to the other? When will they return?

If these details aren't in your plan, it's helpful if you and your spouse can get together before the holiday, work them out and put them on a shared calendar that the kids can access if they're old enough. Children are more comfortable when they know that their parents have worked out the schedule and they know where they'll be and when.

Even if you have a parenting plan in place, if the holidays bring conflict or confusion because of a hole in the details or simply because your family's lives have changed since it was drawn up, you may be wise to amend it with the help of your attorney.

Source: Our Family Wizard, "Custody: How Specific Should You Be?," accessed Nov. 24, 2017

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