Navigating The Holidays With A Child Custody Order

Preparation of holidays with children while navigating divorce
Sep 23, 2019

If you’re in the midst of a divorce, holiday preparations with children can be that much more stressful as you are now navigating the holidays as a co-parent where holidays need to be shared and managed accordingly.

Fortunately, there are ways to alleviate some of the stress related to the holiday season.  Generally speaking, organization ahead of the holiday season is key and it will ease some of the stress related to the children. It’s particularly beneficial if you’re able to communicate clearly and openly with your ex-spouse. Here are some things to consider as you prepare for the holidays with your children while navigating divorce proceedings:

  1. Solidify Holiday Plans: Organization is key when preparing for the holidays.  In Hong Kong, it is normal practice for families to be constantly on the move.  Hong Kong is situated such that it is easy for families to fly to various locations around the world with ease.  It is especially important for you to communicate and agree on your holiday plans with the co-parent as far in advance as possible so that there is no miscommunication or room for issues to suddenly arise shortly before you’re about to embark on your holidays with the children.  If your relationship with your ex-spouse is difficult and you have been embroiled or continue to be embroiled in divorce litigation, it may be a good idea to print out and review the relevant orders and/or emails/letters detailing the agreement reached between you and your ex-spouse so there is no confusion for the arrangement of holidays.
  2. Prepare A Detailed Itinerary: If it makes it easier, write out a detailed schedule or itinerary and provide the same to the other parent, including what activities the children will be engaged in, who the children will come into contact with, emergency details such as hotel information, important phone numbers and flight details.
  3. Talk To Your Solicitor: Before planning your holiday, consult your solicitor to ensure that all the necessary paperwork is in place, including the appropriate custody and holiday orders. Reviewing these orders and asking any questions you have about what they mean or their practical effect is a good idea so that you fully understand the parameters of any custody, child sharing and holiday orders.  If there are certain issues that still need to be addressed ahead of the holidays, your solicitor can assist you by initiating dialogue with your ex-spouse and his/her solicitors.  It can be beneficial to discuss these matters with your solicitor sooner rather than later, and it’s important to plan and meet with your solicitor well in advance of any upcoming holidays if needed.  Last minute issues are not welcome especially when you and your children may have already made plans and want the enjoyment of a holiday to start as soon as possible.
  4. Sort Out Immigration Issues: Travelling in and out of Hong Kong is relatively easy.  However, when there are certain custody orders in place, it is important to speak to your solicitor and have them send the appropriate paperwork to the Hong Kong Immigration Department to ensure that you will not be prevented from leaving Hong Kong with your children.  Just in case, remember to always take all relevant paperwork with you, including any custody orders, in the unlikely event Hong Kong immigration asks questions and needs to see the appropriate orders to allow you to take your children out of Hong Kong.
  5. Have Fun!: Remember that you’re on holiday and the focus should be enjoying your time with your family.  Make it fun!  Organize activities that your children will enjoy.  Try and drown out the stresses of daily life and focus on the here and now.  While it may be difficult to do so when you’re dealing with a difficult spouse or are still embroiled in a litigious divorce, try and unplug and focus on the fact that you are with your children and loved ones and that should in itself be cherished and celebrated.

Overall, remember to focus on the future and look forward new adventures with fresh eyes, full of new possibilities.  Yes, a new norm has to be adapted to, but the more you focus on the future and all the good things to come, the more settled you and your family will be in time.

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