Is Your Parenting Plan Ready for the Holidays?
To avoid family arguments and child custody disputes during the holidays, divorced parents should consider putting a holiday visitation schedule in place prior to the holidays.
Preparing Early With a Holiday Visitation Schedule
The holidays are frequently hailed as a time for family and togetherness, but divorce can make that challenging. When parents are divorced and living in separate households, the holidays can become a time of custody disputes and arguments over visitation schedules.
Preparing a “holiday visitation schedule” is a good way for parents to prevent child custody disputes. A set schedule allows parents to plan for their respective religious holiday traditions and prevents confusion among children about where they will be on certain days. The hustle and bustle of holiday events and gatherings often cause anxiety among children, especially if they have to split their time between parents, family members, and friends. Family law attorneys often see child custody and visitation arguments escalate during holiday seasons.
There are a variety of holidays that occur throughout the year. While some may be less significant than others, major holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, the Fourth of July, and Mother’s and Father’s Days are likely to carry significance to the family. Although not considered holidays, childrens’ and parents’ birthdays also hold special memories and importance for developing close family bonds.
Good co-parenting communication facilitates easier holiday visitation schedules. Common solutions include:
- Sharing holiday time
- Splitting a holiday in half
- Alternating holidays every other year
- Assigning fixed holidays each year
- Dividing holidays based on regular visitation
Christmas, Thanksgiving, and birthdays are major events for both parents and children. On Christmas, one parent can have Christmas Eve while the other has Christmas Day. Since Thanksgiving usually falls on a long three-day weekend, one parent can have Thanksgiving Day while the other has the weekend. When a child’s birthday rolls around, a short visit can be scheduled with the parent who does not have scheduled custody on that day.
A family law attorney can draw up a child custody agreement that addresses holiday visitation schedules. Typically, courts will accept any schedule that both parents choose as long as it is in the best interests of the children. If parents have a good relationship after a divorce, flexible arrangements and schedules are much easier to work out through the court or a family law attorney.