Holidays are stressful; it is a fact of life. Between the traffic, the tight visiting schedule, and the pressure to buy the perfect gift or present the perfect dish, holidays can be downright challenging for modern families. When a couple divorces and works out a visitation schedule for their children, holidays just become doubly complicated. The cheer surrounding holidays can quickly become overshadowed by figuring out how to get to multiple places on a single day.
Scheduling Holidays for Divorced Families
Parents are strongly urged to work together during their divorce process to create a holiday parenting schedule that works for their family. Every family has different needs and no one knows an individual family better than its members. Some families observe many religious holidays while others observe only secular holidays. Some devote large amounts of time and energy into each family member's birthday celebration and others simply acknowledge birthdays with a brief phone call.
Several ways families can choose to develop a holiday parenting schedule are:
- Opting to celebrate major holidays twice. This means that the children celebrate each holiday with both parents, albeit on the day they spend with each parent;
- Splitting holidays. One parent gets the children for the morning during a holiday and the other gets them for the evening. This ensures that the children get to see both parents on all major holidays. One of the problems that can occur in this type of situation is having to spend the majority of a holiday traveling between two households. This option is often best for children whose parents do not live far from each other;
- Setting fixed holidays. In cases like this, each parent has a specific set of holidays that they spend with their children every year. This is best for families where each parent has specific holiday traditions or a strong preference for the holidays they spend with their children. Certain holidays are obvious choices for this type of arrangement—children spending Mother's Day with their mothers and Father's Day with their fathers; and
- Alternating holidays. Mom gets to spend Thanksgiving with the children on odd years, Dad gets to spend it with them on even years. This popular choice allows families to spend entire holidays together and plan in advance how to spend them every year. However, this does mean that parents will have to spend every other holiday without their child or children.
Once parents work out their ideal holiday parenting schedule, they and their attorneys can work it into their child custody agreement. Some couples are not able to amicably develop this schedule together and need considerable input from their attorneys on this matter.
A Child Custody Lawyer Can Help
When you need help deciding on an appropriate holiday parenting schedule for your children, contact a Wheaton child custody attorney at Sullivan Taylor, Gumina & Palmer, P.C. in Wheaton, Illinois to help assist you through the process.