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Creating a Child Custody Plan for the Holidays

Black father embracing daughter, mom in the background

The holiday season is upon us. This usually means time together with family and loved ones, but for divorced parents, it could also bring on feelings of resentment if their child is with the other parent for the holiday. However, with open communication and some flexibility, the holidays can be enjoyable for everyone involved.

Dividing Time

Some custodial agreements already outline how custody will be divided for the holidays. If your custodial agreement doesn’t, though, here are a few options to explore:

  • Alternating holidays each year — you could work out a plan where you have the child for a certain holiday on an even year while your ex has the child for the same holiday on an odd year. This means that you won’t miss seeing your child on this holiday two years in a row.
  • Dividing time on the actual holiday — if it’s critical for both parents to see their child on the actual holiday, they could split the day in half with one parent taking the child in the morning and the other parent being with the child in the afternoon or evening. This mindset requires a lot of planning and coordination but if each parent wants to spend time with their child on the holiday this is a way to make it possible.
  • Celebrate the holiday on a different day — for families that celebrate Christmas, for example, one parent could have the child on Christmas Eve and celebrate Christmas that day while the other could have the child on Christmas. Celebrating the holiday on a different day is common for many families, even those where parents aren’t divorced, because of families trying to see grandparents and other loved ones.
  • Assigning holidays — while this may not be a popular option with some parents, this idea could bring consistency to the parents and child knowing that certain holidays are spent with one parent while the other parent has other holidays. This could be beneficial if parents celebrate different holidays, such as one parent celebrating Hanukkah and the other parent celebrating Christmas.

Flexibility with Additional Holidays

While it’s common to think about dividing time with major holidays that involve getting together with family and friends, other holidays that should be considered are those that involve three-day weekends, such as Memorial Day, Labor Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. day and others. Depending on how your parenting plan is set up, if a parent has the child on a weekend that includes a holiday the following Monday, that parent could request to have an additional day with their child. This is where open communication is critical because if an extra day would be outside of the designated parenting plan, you will need to discuss when you would receive an additional day with your child in return.

If the child is in school, sometimes they will receive a long weekend due to teacher in-service days. Again, it’s crucial for parents to communicate about child custody plans for days like this.

There are also some days that may be significant to you, your ex, or your child, and are also important to consider:

  • The child’s birthday — in the child’s eyes, this day could be as significant as any major holiday. It’s important to keep that perspective in mind when deciding with your ex who spends time with your child on their birthday.
  • Mother’s Day and Father’s Day — some parents prefer to spend this holiday with, or without, their children. Depending on the parent’s preference, it’s important for parents to communicate about who is with the child on this day.
  • Winter break, spring break, and summer break — if the child is school-aged, they will most likely be given a winter, spring, and summer break from school. On these days, it’s paramount for parents to figure out a custody schedule so that not only is the child watched after but the situation is fair for both parents.

How Peterson White, LLP Can Help

At Peterson White, LLP we’ve seen a variety of custody agreements and can help work out a plan that is best for you and your former partner. Whether you have a full custody agreement in place, are looking to make changes to that custody agreement, or are just getting started on a custody agreement, we are here to help you. See what our former clients have to say about us and reach out for a free consultation.