How to handle the holidays when sharing custody of minors

On Behalf of | Dec 19, 2023 | Child Custody And Placement

For many parents with young children, sharing parenting time is the biggest challenge of a divorce. Parents used to being with their children 24/7 often struggle to adjust to a shared custody arrangement with their former spouse. They hate the idea of only spending some of the time with their children.

The challenges associated with shared custody can be magnified on special days like holidays and birthdays. No parent wants to miss out on a big Christmas celebration or a child’s sweet 16 birthday party. With both parents hoping to be present on special days, conflict can easily arise and mar those special occasions.

How can those negotiating shared custody arrangements address the holidays?

Have a plan for special days.

Most custody orders include provisions for holidays, birthdays and other special events. There are a variety of ways for the parents in the family to handle special days. Most often, parents choose an alternating holiday schedule. Typically, holidays are designated by even and odd years and are allocated in a fair and equitable manner. For example, the parties may alternate Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Or one parent may have Memorial Day and the other parent has Labor Day and reverse those days in the next year.

Other times, the parents may agree to split or share the holidays. The children spend the morning with one parent and the evening with the other.

Parents can negotiate with one another and reach their own custody arrangements that a lawyer can help them to formalize. Lawyers can also offer helpful insight in developing holiday placement arrangements. If parents cannot agree, they may need to take a matter to family court. Typically, people require support when negotiating with their spouse. They need to learn about the law and will require assistance when discussing the details of co-parenting. As holidays are often an emotional issue for parents, it can also be very difficult for a parent to remain calm and reasonable in court. An emotional outburst can hurt their chances of the best possible outcome.

Obtaining the right legal support when negotiating crucial custody matters can help parents to better ensure that they can spend the quality time they want with their children without disregarding their co-parent’s rights in the process.

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