Navigating Thanksgiving in Arkansas with Shared Custody

Navigating Thanksgiving in Arkansas with Shared Custody

It feels like Halloween was just yesterday, but the season of gratitude is already here. As Thanksgiving approaches, families throughout Arkansas are gearing up to cook homemade meals and spend time with family — although this isn’t the case for everybody. 

For parents navigating shared custody agreements, this time can bring joy and challenges. In the spirit of the holiday, knowing how to foster gratitude and create meaningful moments for your child during Thanksgiving, even when shared or modified custody is part of the equation.

Arkansas State Thanksgiving Visitation Schedule

Like many states, Arkansas provides a general visitation schedule, specifying that Thanksgiving visitation will begin at 5:00 pm on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and extend until Sunday at 8:00 pm.

Keep in mind this standard visitation schedule is only a starting point for parents to plan their Thanksgiving arrangements. For custodial parents, this means coordinating the exchange of children at 5:00 pm on the designated Wednesday, allowing the non-custodial parent to have Thanksgiving time with the child until 8:00 pm on Sunday. But plans may differ if both parents agree. 

Some counties, such as Benton County, offer suggested standard visitation guidelines that can assist parents in solidifying a schedule if they cannot agree on one. For instance, Parent 1 has the children on odd years for Thanksgiving (2023, 2025, 2027, etc.), while Parent 2 typically has them during the even years (2024, 2026, 2028, etc.).

Best Co-Parenting Practices Around Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving, at its core, is a celebration of gratitude and togetherness. So, despite the logistical complexities of shared custody, this season presents a great opportunity to reflect on the positive aspects of our circumstances — even if they're challenging. 

Remember, everyone has a choice in how they react or contribute to the situation. Here are some suggestions on how you can help keep Thanksgiving and future major holidays smooth sailing.

Tip #1: Open Lines of Communication

Clear communication between co-parents is of utmost importance, especially during the holiday season when families are coming together, and children are learning about togetherness at school. 

It's crucial to discuss plans well in advance, addressing any concerns or special requests. Transparency and flexibility can go a long way in creating a harmonious Thanksgiving experience for everyone involved.

Children often mimic their parents' behavior. When you keep open communication with your co-parent, you're providing a positive model for your children. This sets a healthy example, teaching them the importance of effective and peaceful communication in their future relationships.

Tip #2: Capturing Moments of Gratitude

Encourage your child to express gratitude during Thanksgiving. Create a thankful jar where everyone contributes notes of appreciation, or takes turns sharing what each family member is grateful for. 

When expressing gratitude, don’t forget to say positive things about your child's other parent. Acknowledge their positive qualities and contributions to your child's life. This approach has tremendous effects on your child's self-esteem and understanding of how to treat others as they grow into adults.

This cooperation contributes to their mental and emotional well-being. In contrast, children exposed to conflicts between co-parents are at a higher risk of developing issues like depression, anxiety, or ADHD.

Hickey & Hull Law Partners Can Help

Remember to adhere to the terms of your custody agreement and seek legal advice if modifications are necessary. 

Courts generally expect parents to comply with court-ordered custody arrangements, and any changes should be made through proper channels.

If you need help creating or modifying a custody arrangement, Hickey & Hull Law Firm can help you now. Chat, fill out our online form, or contact us today for a free consultation. Our River Valley office number is 479.434.2414, and our Northwest Arkansas number is 479.802.6560.