Child Custody During the Holidays

Now that the holidays are upon us, we thought it was fitting to discuss the issue of child custody during the holiday season. For most people, the holidays are a joyous time of year that involves family gatherings, good food, spending time with loved ones, and honoring family traditions.

However, for parents going through a separation or divorce, the holidays can bring feelings of angst and reservations, especially when it’s going to be their first year celebrating Thanksgiving, Hanukkah or Christmas as a split family on the mend.

If you’re on the road to divorce or in the process, you may wonder how divorcing parents handle child custody over the holidays, and for good reason. In this article, we discuss how divorcing parents typically split time with their children during this special time of year.

Alternating Holidays Each Year

When parents enter into a divorce agreement, they have to make provisions for child custody and visitation before a judge will sign off on the agreement and finalize the divorce. As a part of this child custody agreement, the parents must address how they will handle parenting time over the holidays, school vacation periods, and summer vacation.

Since each family is unique, parents can be flexible about the holidays; however, it’s very common for parents to simply alternate holidays each year. For example, on even years Mom may get the kids on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, and on odd years she gets them on Christmas Day, and this rotates every year with the children’s father. Usually, parents will deviate from this when their work schedules get in the way. Another alternative is to spend the holidays together – an arrangement that works best with former spouses who are on good terms with each other.

Spending the Holidays Together

When everyone gets along, it may work out best to spend the holidays together. In such cases, it’s not unusual for everyone to come together to celebrate the holidays together, and to warmly include the new significant others in the picture.

For high-conflict families, it’s often best for the parents to celebrate the holidays with their children separately. Having a schedule in place will limit the conflict between the parents, where the details of pick up and drop off times for visitation will limit the need for the couple to engage in scheduling conversations.