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Addressing holidays and special events in a parenting plan

On Behalf of | May 12, 2024 | Child Custody

Many parents struggle with the idea of sharing custody. The prospect of only having a limited amount of time with their children can be very upsetting for the typical parent. Particularly when the goal is to share parenting time as evenly as possible, the possibility of only spending about 50% of the time with the children can be very difficult for someone to accept.

People struggle to adjust to an arrangement in which they can only spend every other weekend with their children or in which they split their weeks with a co-parent. Certain special days can be particularly difficult for parents who share custody, as they undoubtedly want to spend holidays, birthdays and other special occasions with their children.

How can adults who share custody address days with special significance for the family and society?

There are several ways to plan for the holidays

Unless the parents belong to different religions and cultures and therefore celebrate different holidays, the chances are good that the same days have significance for both parents. It would be unfair for one parent to consistently get to spend those special days with the children while the other could not.

The goal of making the division of holiday parenting time as even as possible might lead to a rotating holiday custody arrangement. The children spend every other holiday with one parent and the remaining holidays with the other. The following year, the parents invert the schedule. Someone who had Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve with the children one year would celebrate Christmas and Halloween with them the next.

For some families, actually sharing the holidays or birthdays by splitting the day in half might be a better option. The parents can arrange for a custody exchange during special days. The children spend part of the holiday or birthday with one parent and then the remainder of the day with the other. On some special days, such as the most significant holidays and the birthdays of the children, it might be possible for parents to agree to share celebrations.

Such arrangements allow the children to have everyone they care about together for one event, which can be beneficial for them. Parents may need to think carefully about the dynamic that they have with each other and the way that their family has historically celebrated holidays to choose the approach that is likely to be the most effective approach.

Taking the time to address holidays and other complicating factors when establishing a parenting schedule can help parents establish more peaceful co-parenting arrangements. Those who plan ahead of time for concerns that cause conflict, like sharing holidays, how can ease into a healthy co-parenting schedule.