One big step toward finalizing your divorce (or creating a final parenting plan) is figuring out custody of your children for the holidays, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas or Winter Break. As a reminder, legal custody pertains to the ability to make decisions for the child. Physical custody is about where the child lives. For some parents, creating a holiday schedule is a fairly simple process and little or no negotiation is required. For others, creating a holiday custody schedule can be challenging as parents think about how to accommodate family holiday traditions when they are no longer together.
In creating a holiday custodial schedule, you and the other parent may agree to any number of ways to split your time with the children. It comes down to what makes sense for you and your family. Here are some examples to use as a possible starting point.
Winter Break and Holidays
There are different ways to create a winter break or a holiday schedule. For a two-week winter break, you could split it evenly between the parents. For example, in Odd years, the child spends the first half of the winter break with one parent starting the moment school releases (for winter break) through the mid-way point of the winter break. Then, the other parent has the child from the mid-way point of the winter break through the Sunday before school resumes. The schedule reverses in Even years.
Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays may not work out as cleanly, but there are viable options. If the odd and even-numbered tactic works for the breaks, consider applying it to these holidays. During an even-numbered year, one parent gets Thanksgiving but not Christmas. And then it reverses the following year.
The Even/Odd approach can also work for specific days. For example, Christmas can be split between the morning and afternoon with one parent celebrating Christmas morning in Odd years, and the other parent celebrating Christmas with the child later in the day. The schedule reverses the following year. You (and your attorneys) can designate the exchange time on Christmas Day, such as, 12 noon or later. Sharing the Christmas holiday between the parents allows the child to spend Christmas with both parents.
To figure out the best schedule for your family, grab a calendar and play around with the different holiday schedules. Also, look at your child’s school calendar so you can see the dates for the school’s holidays and break schedules and plug them into your calendar.
Bottom line is there is no one “right way” to create a custody schedule. When you and the other parent discuss this, keep in mind that the right schedule is the one that works for you and your children.
Akiona Law, PLLC
Contact Akiona Law if you need help creating your winter break or holiday schedule!