Navigating Holiday Custody

The holidays can be a bright and joyful time full of laughs and memories. Every parents wants to be present for Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas day with their children. Sharing small moments during the holiday season can make memories that last a lifetime.

But for parents who are divorced, the holidays can look a little different. Oftentimes they can be stressful or even contentious as you discuss visitation and work out holiday custody schedules.

As we head into the holiday season, here are some tips for figuring out logistics and visitation for holiday custody. 

Things to consider when discussing the holidays

There are quite a few factors that go into determining what to do about the holidays.

Things like travel, age, holiday traditions and school schedules can all factor into the logistical and personal aspects of planning for the holidays. 

If one parent is traveling far distances to see extended family or lives out of state it might be better for children to stay with the other parent, especially if children are young and don’t do well with long travel. 

The distance between each parent’s home can also impact holiday and travel plans. If the distance is further, it’s a good idea to start planning at least a few weeks in advance so that travel plans, pick-up/drop-offs, and other things can be arranged.

Don’t forget to practically account for other things like time-off and work schedules. If one parent has to work a certain holiday it may be better for a child to be with their other parents on that particular day. 

Also keep in mind that as children age, they can (and should) have more of a say in how the holidays are spent. After 18 they can decide for themselves how and where they want to spend the holidays. But before then, make sure to weigh in on their opinion. 

Custody percentage and holiday custody

It’s also important to make sure to factor in your timeshare custody percentage when planning for the holidays. If you have an allotted percentage of time when you’re allowed to see your child(ren), it’s important to plan for the holidays early in the year to ensure you have time set aside for them. 

Make a game-plan

Making a plan ahead of time can help to make holidays more consistent for your children and less stressful for you and your ex. If at all possible, try to settle upon a holiday custody arrangement early. 

There are a few holiday custody arrangements that are fairly typical for families, but of course can be change or later to fit the needs of your particular case.

Alternating Years

In some cases, parents will agree to alternate holidays spent with their kids each year. This arrangement can look like Parent 1 having holiday custody on Christmas one year, then switching with Parent 2. 

In other cases, one parent may have a permanent holiday. On this holiday that parents has custody of the children regardless of the year. This can come down to personal preference, holiday tradition, or religious beliefs. For example, interfaith families may benefit from a permanent holiday schedule, especially one parent doesn’t celebrate a particular holiday in favor of another. 

Plan ahead

If you don’t have the kids on the day of a holiday there are still ways to celebrate and make things special. Don’t have the kids for Christmas? Plan a day earlier in December to celebrate with them. Make your own new traditions with them. 

If you and your co-parent are on good terms, try to create new traditions together to ease the transition and establish/maintain the new family dynamics. 

Remember who it’s about

As you plan your holiday, remember that all this planning is for the kids, not you. Make sure to put their well-being before your own wants and desires. Make the holidays special, not about making yourself look better than the other parent. 

One of the main things to remember when planning for the holidays is to stay flexible. Be prepared for plans to change, and be open to reassessing holiday plans every few years. Life circumstances can change, and your holiday custody arrangements may have to change with them.

If you’re looking for representation for matters of family law, contact our team at The Narrows Law Group today.