A child custody dispute is likely to be one of the most challenging experiences of any parent’s life, and reaching the final conclusion to this type of case can be equally relieving and distressing for some parents. Every child custody case in Bloomington rests in the hands of a family court judge who is legally bound to rule in favor of whatever will suit the child’s best interests. If you recently completed your divorce and are facing your first holiday season with a child custody order, it’s natural to worry about potential conflicts with your co-parent.

The holiday season can be equal parts enjoyable and stressful for most people, but this time of year can be especially demanding on parents. Newly divorced parents often face adjustment to many new concerns after completing their dissolution proceedings, and the situation will be even harder for their children. However, a few best practices and legal counsel you can trust from an experienced Bloomington family lawyer can provide peace of mind and reassurance as you head into your first holiday season after divorce.

Understanding Your Custody Order

When a judge resolves any custody dispute in Bloomington, the custody order they put in place must reflect the child’s specific needs and best interests. In most cases, judges prefer joint custody arrangements that provide a child with as much access to both of their parents as possible. In addition, the judge must evaluate the overall fitness of each parent to manage their child’s basic living needs, the work schedules and living arrangements of each parent, and many other variables.

Once a custody order is in place, it will dictate legal custody (the ability to make decisions for a child) and physical custody, which establishes the child’s residency. When parents share physical custody, they will typically alternate weeks, switch custody every few days, or customize their custody exchange schedule around their children’s school schedules and other needs. Most custody orders will include specific provisions regarding holidays. When parents live close enough to one another for it to be practical, children may spend the first half of a holiday with one parent and the second half with the other parent.

Changing Your Custody Order in Bloomington

There are only two ways in which you can deviate from the terms of your custody order. The first is by securing an official modification to the terms of the order. For example, if your life has changed in a significant way recently, the current terms of your custody order may no longer be tenable. The other option is a mutual agreement between the spouses, but this only applies to one-off scenarios like unexpected travel complications during the holiday season, family vacations, and ensuring quality time with extended family members from both sides of the child’s family.

Ultimately, every divorced parent will have unique concerns for this holiday season, and every family has unique dynamics that can make the season easier or more difficult in various ways. However, if you and your co-parent can separate the personal friction between you from your shared responsibilities as parents and maintain respectful and responsive communication, both you and your children can avoid unnecessary tension and conflict over the holidays. Should you encounter an acute issue regarding your custody order as you prepare for the holidays, reach out to a family law attorney you can trust.


Q: What Are the Penalties for Violating a Custody Order in Bloomington?

A: A parent can face a host of serious penalties for any willful violation of a custody order, especially if, in doing so, they cause any measure of harm to their child. Even slight but persistent violations, such as repeated failure to make support payments on time or meet for custody exchanges when required, can lead to contempt of court and various other penalties. The judge overseeing the case has discretionary power to penalize custody order violations as they deem appropriate.

Q: Do I Need to Hire an Attorney to File Contempt Proceedings?

A: Technically, no, there is no legal requirement to hire counsel if you intend to file contempt proceedings against your co-parent. However, legal counsel you can trust significantly improves the chances of reaching the results you hope to see from your contempt filing. If you have any reason to suspect your co-parent is a danger to your children, the contempt filing is crucial for preventing any harm and securing safer custody terms.

Q: Can a Parent Move Away With a Custody Order?

A: If a parent has any level of physical custody of their child and wishes to relocate, the other parent must prove that relocation would not suit the child’s best interests if the relocating parent intended to take the child with them. When it comes to travel during the holidays, parents must ensure they follow their custody orders very closely and consult one another regarding holiday travel and plan changes per the terms of their orders. Any relocation without appropriate court approval can carry severe penalties for the parent.

Q: How Can I Change My Custody Order?

A: You and your co-parent may be able to arrange mutually agreeable solutions to holiday travel complications and scheduling your holiday plans with your children and other relatives, but you must formally modify your custody order if either of you wishes to make any permanent changes to its terms. The modification process allows you to make reasonable changes to a custody order in response to unexpected life events, and an experienced family lawyer can guide you through this process efficiently.

Ultimately, the holidays can be stressful in many ways, but sticking to the terms of your custody order and maintaining open and respectful communication between you and your co-parent can help your whole family have a much more enjoyable holiday season while managing your new custody terms. If you are preparing for divorce or a custody determination in Bloomington, it’s vital to contact a Bloomington, IL, family law attorney you can trust to guide you through these proceedings, and they can also provide specific guidance as to how you can make the holidays easier for your children this year.