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Family Law

Sharing parenting time on holidays, birthdays and school breaks

On Behalf of | Feb 24, 2024 | Child Custody |

For those with children, addressing custody and parenting time issues can be the hardest part of a divorce. Many parents find the idea of having limited time with their children very difficult to accept. When children are young, parents worry about missing out on milestones, like the first time they ride a two-wheel bike. With older children, the fear is often that the household dynamic may shift, leading to the children feeling distant from one of their parents.

Simply trying to negotiate a reasonable way to share day-to-day parenting time can be very difficult. When it comes to special days, like birthdays, holidays and school vacations, concerns can become that much more heated. How can parents reasonably plan on dividing parenting time on days when they would clearly both prefer to be with their children?

There are many viable options for addressing special days

Sometimes, parents come from different religions or cultures. They might therefore a very different priorities about which special days they would prefer to spend with their children. When parents do not desire the same holiday access, it can be very simple for the adults in the family to divvy up those special days as part of a custody arrangement.

When both parents want to spend Christmas or the Fourth of July with the children, then things become a bit more complicated. There are several different ways to reasonably and fairly address special events.

Some families use an alternating approach. One parent has the children on Thanksgiving, and then the other spends Christmas with the children. The next year, the parents have the opposite holidays with the children. That solution can work well for some families.

Other times, splitting holidays and birthdays could be reasonable. Instead of spending the entire day with one parent or the other, the family plans for a custody exchange in the middle of the day so that each parent spends a portion of the day with the children.

Occasionally, when parents divorce but remain on relatively good terms with one another, they might be able to establish a system of actually sharing holidays and birthdays. They may agree to have one celebration with everyone present, including both parents. Of course, this final solution can potentially lead to conflicts that may diminish the children’s enjoyment of what should be special days.

School breaks, which last much longer, can play a role in balancing the overall division of parenting time by giving one parent many days with the children at once. Parents need to be realistic about what their children need and what they are capable of doing in a shared custody arrangement.

Considering every option for dividing not just overall parenting time but special days with children can lead to a more effective custody arrangement.