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Updated by Joshua Hains on May 29, 2018
Headline for 5 Options for Holiday Scheduling After a Divorce
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Joshua Hains Joshua Hains
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5 Options for Holiday Scheduling After a Divorce

After your divorce, how will you and your former spouse split time with your children during the holidays? If you are preparing for a divorce with children, here are five options you can consider for addressing parenting time during the holidays.

1

Standard Parenting Time

One option is to stick to your standard parenting time schedule regardless of when the holidays fall. If a holiday falls on your week (or weekend), then you get to spend the day with your children. While this may be the simplest approach, it can often have inequitable consequences, and most divorcing parents will find that it is worthwhile to develop a more-customized solution.

2

Alternating Years

Some divorcing parents will agree to alternate years: If you spend Thanksgiving with your children this year, next year they will spend the holiday with your former spouse. This type of holiday plan is relatively easy to follow, though it will still be helpful to have a written schedule in the event that a dispute arises.

3

Alternating Holidays

Another option is for each parent to spend certain designated holidays with his or her children. For example, the children may spend every Independence Day with one parent and every Thanksgiving with the other. This eliminates any potential confusion about “who’s year” it is for a particular holiday, but it also means that each parent will miss out on certain experiences entirely.

A good solution for some parents is to alternate holidays on an annual basis. If you celebrate four holidays, for example, one parent would spend the first and third holidays with the couple’s children during the first year after the divorce, and then he or she would spend the second and fourth holidays with the children the following year.

4

Splitting Time Each Day

A fourth option is to split time on each holiday. This is not always feasible (or desirable), but it can work if you and your former spouse live relatively close to one another. With this option, the non-custodial parent will typically pick up and drop off the couple’s children at the custodial parent’s home at designated times during the day.

5

Co-Parenting

Under the right circumstances, co-parenting can be an effective solution for parents who wish to spend all of the holidays with their children. Co-parenting is an alternative to traditional custody and parenting time schedules in which both parents continue to jointly play a role in their children’s lives. If you and your spouse are divorcing on amicable terms and you are both willing to consider co-parenting as an option, it can make the transition to post-divorce life easier for your children while providing you with more opportunities to build lasting memories during the holidays.