For most people, holidays are spent with relatives and friends. This may include large gatherings with extended family members or a small celebration reserved for parents to spend time with their children. Regardless of your family holiday traditions, they typically include time spent with your kids. This may seem like second-nature to married couples; however, those parents who are recently divorced must learn how to navigate these special days differently. To ensure that both parents can have quality time with their kids, it may be necessary to adjust parenting schedules during the holidays.
What Is Considered a “Holiday” By the Court?
It can be difficult for the court to address specific holidays, since they can vary based on families’ traditions and religious beliefs. However, there are guidelines provided to help those formulating parenting plans pin down what they consider a holiday. Thanksgiving and Christmas may be the two that come to mind, but there are various other holidays throughout the year that divorcing couples must consider. Holidays that result in three-day weekends, such as Labor Day and Memorial Day, can be listed as holidays in your parenting plan. Because the children are off of school, this can allow parents to spend extra time with their kids.
Holidays that give students a lengthy vacation from school are especially important to include in the plans. Even if you do not celebrate Christmas, it is important to note how the break from school will be divided between both parents. Any religious holidays that you and your children celebrate should be named in the plan as well as your child’s birthday. While these may not be considered “official holidays,” their significance is enough to add them to your parenting plan.
What Are the Different Plan Options?
A family law attorney can provide you with suggestions to help reduce conflict when trying to share the holidays, but the examples below are not the only options you can choose. The following are common ways that couples choose to split these special days:
Alternating – Some families will choose to divide the holidays between parents and alternate on a yearly basis, with mom taking even years and dad taking odd years (or vice versa). In other words, if the kids spend Christmas with mom this year, they will spend that holiday with their dad the following year.
Doing Two Holidays – Some parents may decide to each have their own holiday celebration with the kids. Dad may have the kids for Thanksgiving on Thursday, while mom has the children over for the same meal the following day. This is a good option for parents hoping to spend every holiday with their child, even if holidays are not always celebrated on their exact calendar date.
Divide the Day – Many children will spend half the day with each parent. Mom may get the kids for breakfast while dad makes them dinner. This is a good way to divvy up the holidays if you live nearby, but those parents who live far apart may struggle to split the day due to a long commute.
Fixed Holidays – Not all holidays are equal in the eyes of parents. Some favor the fourth of July over Thanksgiving and do not mind sacrificing the days for each other. Naming fixed holidays in the parenting plan eliminates any questions regarding “whose year it is.”
Call a DuPage County Divorce Attorney
Formulating parenting schedules rarely goes smoothly. Emotions can run high, and parents may become protective of their children. This is especially true when discussing the holiday season. Creating a parenting plan is a requirement for all divorcing couples with children, and it is important to include holidays in this plan to keep things fair between both parents. At A. Traub & Associates, we are well versed in the creation of parenting plans, and we will work to make sure that both parents are pleased with the outcome. If you are looking for help planning the holidays with your kids, call our Lombard, IL parenting plan lawyers today at 630-426-0196.