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Start planning your holiday custody schedule now

One thing that parents in the throes of a divorce need to understand is that they will have to devise a separate holiday custody schedule in addition to the schedule they will follow the rest of the year. This holiday parenting plan will need to reflect both the needs of the children and the availability of the parents to provide care and supervision of the kids over holidays and extended breaks from school.

Problems develop when both parents quite naturally want their children with them on all the major holidays. But this is not going to be possible when custody is split between the two parents. Below are some suggestions to help you reach accord on your holiday parenting schedule.

Alternate major holidays

This compromise works well for many families post-divorce. If Mom gets the kids for Thanksgiving this year, Dad will have them on Christmas. The next year, the holidays will rotate. The parents can hash out between themselves how this will work or let their respective Chicago family law attorneys negotiate these terms for them in court.

Choose fixed holidays

This scenario is most plausible when one parent doesn’t follow (or care much about) a holiday that the other parent annually celebrates. For instance, Mom might get the kids for Hanukkah and Passover and Dad for Christmas and Easter. But this method doesn’t just apply to religious holidays but can work with secular celebrations as well.

Perhaps your family always has a big Memorial Day family reunion at Lake Michigan’s lakefront, so you want the kids to definitely be with you each year on that weekend. Your ex, on the other hand, makes a big deal out of Halloween and wants to share the holiday each year with the children. This is where compromises can ideally be made.

Sharing the day

This option only works when both parents live only a few minutes from one another. If that applies to you, you can split the day, with both parents getting the kids for half the holiday.

Just keep in mind that it is not fair to keep the kids in transit from home to home during the bulk of the holiday. Otherwise, their holiday memories will be centered around boring car trips that could be fraught with negative emotions from all parties.

Shared celebrations

This solution, of course, will only work for couples who have civil post-divorce relationships. But it can be healing for all members of a family (divorced parents included) to come together to celebrate a child’s birthday. This is often quite possible if the celebration is at a neutral venue like a restaurant or party facility where the parents don’t have to be in extended contact with one another on one parent’s turf.

Work out the plan that suits your family’s needs

Sit down with your attorney and brainstorm your ideas, wants and needs for your holiday custody schedule. That will leave you in the best negotiating position to determine the custody calendar for the upcoming year.