Holidays are a time for families to be together, but if you’re co-parenting a child with a former spouse, it can be tricky to navigate dividing parenting time during this period. Holiday visitation schedules are often a major point of contention between former spouses who have a child in common. Addressing holiday custody and visitation in your parenting plan can help reduce the risk of conflict when holidays roll around.
What Do Holiday Custody and Visitation Arrangements Typically Look Like?
Deciding how to share custody of your child with the child’s other parent can be challenging, but with the help of an experienced family lawyer, you and your co-parent can devise an arrangement that works for everyone. Here are some of the ways that divorced parents divide parenting time over the holidays:
Parents who reside or spend the holidays in the same area will sometimes split each holiday with their child. That way, both parents get to spend time with the child on every major holiday. For example, if two co-parents do Thanksgiving with their respective families in the same area, their child could spend the first half of the day with one parent and the second half of the day with the other.
Splitting single-day holidays like the Fourth of July tends to work best when parents live near one another. Travel time can take up a significant portion of the holiday if the parents live a considerable distance apart. However, proximity might be less of an issue if the holiday takes place over multiple days (i.e., Hannukah). For longer holidays, parents could split the holiday period so that they each get several days with the child.
Some parents decide to split parenting time by alternating holidays. For instance, one parent may get Labor Day and Christmas with the child while the other takes Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Then, the following year, the parents switch holidays. One of the benefits of alternating holidays is that each parent gets their child for the full extent of the holiday when it is their turn to have parenting time.
Some parents create a fixed holiday schedule. For instance, one parent may always get the child on Memorial Day weekend, while the other may always get the child on Labor Day weekend. A fixed holiday schedule can also work well for parents from different faith backgrounds. For example, if one parent celebrates Christmas and the other celebrates Hannukah, they can create a fixed schedule so that the parent who celebrates Christmas always gets the child for that holiday, and the parent who is Jewish always gets parenting time during Hannukah celebrations.
Some parents stick to the typical custody arrangement or visitation schedule and celebrate a holiday twice. For instance, if one parent happens to have the kids during the week of Thanksgiving and the other parent has the child the following week, the other parent could celebrate Thanksgiving with the child the next week, even though the official holiday has already passed.
Parents can also set a date for the duplicate holiday to be celebrated each year. As an example, one parent could celebrate Christmas with their child on Christmas Day, while the other could schedule their Christmas with the child on New Year’s Day. Then, the parent could create an alternate holiday schedule so that each parent gets the child on Christmas Day at least once every two years.
Contact a Virginia Beach Family Law Attorney
It can be challenging to split holidays with a co-parent in a way that feels fair to both parties, but there is a broad range of potential solutions that parents can explore when creating a holiday visitation schedule. Through compromise and negotiation, the Virginia Beach family law attorney at Hardt Law, P.L.L.C. will advocate for your interests and help you create a parenting plan that meets your goals regarding holiday parenting time. Contact us online or call (757) 962-5588 for a confidential case assessment.