Holidays & Child Custody: How to Make the Best Schedule for Your Kids

Multi Generation Family Celebrating Thanksgiving

The holiday season is a time for joy and peace. It offers bountiful opportunities to spend time with the ones you love. But it also brings with it the possibility of hurt and anger when it comes to child custody and parenting time disputes. Keep your season bright by following these helpful tips.

Speak With All Parties Before Finalizing Plans

You likely have a child custody and parenting time order. That order should delineate who does what over Thanksgiving and every holiday between that and the New Year. If it does, follow your plan. There is no sure-fire way to land yourself in a legal dispute than by failing to follow a prearranged plan.

If your plan leaves it to you to create something that works on an annual basis, hold open and honest discussions with your children and the other parent. Make sure you know where each parent will be for each holiday. Perhaps you two will not have many overlapping requests. Then discuss how you will equally share the holidays so your children have the best experiences possible. Some sharing options include:

  • Split the day in half: Hold a brunch with one side of the family and spend the early afternoon together. Then have the other side of the family celebrate at dinner time and through the evening.
  • Split the Eve and Day celebrations: Have one parent spend the first half of a holiday break (the days before and including the Eve) and the other take the second half (the Day and the days following it).
  • Share the festivities: If all parties work well together, why not avoid the “how do we split” discussion completely by having everyone come together for one big celebration?

Focus on the Best Interests of Your Children

What is best for you isn’t always what is best for your children. This can be hard to hear, and even harder act upon.

How exactly do you do this? First, you listen to your children. Hear what they’re saying and acknowledge their wishes. Then, adjust your schedule and expectations to meet their own. Do not fight with them and do not guilt them to staying with you on a certain holiday. The more you can work with your children to show them that you care about their happiness, and not about a specific date, the better off you all will be.

Make New Traditions

Whether you’re newly divorced or have never been married, it is never too late to start new holiday traditions. If you do not have your children on Thanksgiving, plan a special Thanksgiving celebration on another day. Invite friends and relatives to that event—make it something grand! The same goes for Christmas.

There is no law that states you must have your children on a specific Eve or Day to make it a holiday. All that is required is a festive atmosphere, excitement for new beginnings, and quality time spent together. If you focus on this, you will find your holiday happiness.

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