The holiday season is probably full of events you and your ex want your child to attend. Family parties, religious events, and other commitments fill your calendar.

What is the best way to discuss parenting time with your ex?

  • Do it in writing

It’s always a good idea to make any requests in writing in case it ever becomes challenged. This can be done via text message, email, etc. If you have specific language in your decree that states how you should communicate with your ex, make sure you abide by it.

  • Allow plenty of time

If you only give notice a few days in advance, your ex is more likely to get annoyed with the short notice and deny your request. Give as much notice as possible. Again, refer to your decree as you may have a guideline for how much notice is recommended.

  • Provide information

You don’t have to tell your ex what side you’re bringing to the family party, but you should at least let your ex know what event you’re attending.

  • Come with a solution

Instead of just notifying your ex of when your event is, offer suggestions for how it can be arranged. Make suggestions for weekend/day swaps, makeup time, etc.

  • Be kind

This may be one of the most difficult guidelines to follow, but it’s important. Although you and your ex don’t always get along, when requesting a change for visitation it’s important to be civil and not start an argument. Take a look at the examples below:

“Hey Jess, I have a family party at my parent’s house on December 17th, and I’d really like Claire to be able to attend. There will be a lot of family there she hasn’t seen in a long time. Would you be willing to switch me weekends for the 10th? I would really appreciate it.”


“Jess, I have a party I want to take Claire to on the 17th. I know you probably won’t let her go anyways, but maybe you could stop being selfish and actually work with me for once in your life.”

Which one would you be more likely to negotiate with?

So how flexible should you be? Being flexible doesn’t mean you have to cancel your plans with your children so they can have theirs. There may be times when visitation swaps simply don’t work for one of you. You may have family parties on the same evening.

While you aren’t required to bend over backward to make their visitation requests work, here are a few reasons it’s important to be flexible:

  • What if it were reversed?

If the roles were reversed would you want your ex to be willing to work with you? This is an important guideline to remember, because sometimes the roles may swap. Your example of being willing to be flexible with visitation may rub off on your ex.

  • Who are you punishing?

Although it’s true you are punishing your ex by declining to work with them, you are also punishing your child. If there is any event where they can build a relationship with the family you haven’t seen in a while, it could be a great experience for them.

  • It can keep you out of court

If you are refusing to be flexible with visitation and working with your ex in general, they may take you to court. Judges want parents to work together, so if you appear to be digging your heels in at every turn, it may come back to bite you.

  • Tis the Season

It may be silly, but if you don’t want to be flexible for any other reason, how about due to the season? This is the season of giving. Since you probably won’t be buying your ex any other holiday gift this year, consider giving them the gift of flexibility.

Co-parenting isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to be miserable. If you have questions about custody, let us help ease the burden. Contact Burton Law today to discuss your case with one of our experienced and sensitive attorneys.


Ken is the founder of Burton Attorneys at Law and finds the challenge of practicing law extremely rewarding. Although Ken has a broad assortment of experience ranging from bankruptcy to civil litigation to criminal law, Ken’s practice is tailored almost exclusively to the area of family law.

He chose to practice in the family law arena because of the positive and direct impact for good he saw in the lives of his clients.

Having twice been named one of Utah’s Legal Elite by Utah Business Magazine, Ken has a solid reputation as an effective advocate for his clients. He is actively involved in local and state bar associations, serves on various boards of directors and with volunteer organizations, and as a mentor for newly admitted attorneys.

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