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Accounting for the holidays in a parenting plan

When divorce becomes a reality, parents are often required to plan for future contingencies while working through a complex process. They are dividing assets, dividing debt responsibility and calculating support payments while determining who gets to spend Thanksgiving with the children three years from now. It is not uncommon for plans to change and emotional needs to evolve as children get older. Parents must be willing to carefully examine a parenting time schedule and revise where needed.

As the end of the year quickly approaches, many divorced parents start to reevaluate the parenting time schedule they’ve relied on for the past several months. With the pandemic causing more parents to think outside the box for educational needs, changes to the agreed-upon calendar might be necessary.

Fortunately, there are several ways divorced parents can make changes to their parenting time through the legal process, including:

  • Alternating the holidays: The best example is when parents assign holidays based on the evenness or oddness of the year.
  • Splitting a holiday: When travel and logistics favor it, the child could spend Christmas Eve with one parent and Christmas Day with the other. Additionally, if the parents are in even closer proximity, the child could spend Christmas Morning with one parent and Christmas Evening with the other.
  • Having a holiday twice: With planning and preparation, the parent could schedule two holidays, perhaps one week apart. The child could celebrate Christmas with one parent on December 18th and then celebrate with the other parent on December 25th. With advance communication, this can be seen as a fun alternative rather than a last-minute fix.
  • Assigning fixed holidays: This might have come up during the initial creation of the parenting plan, but certain holidays often mean more to one parent than the other. Perhaps negotiation is in order if one parent would rather have Thanksgiving with the child and is willing to forego the Christmas holiday.

While these suggestions might not work for every family, they can form the backbone of a compromise. Do not hesitate to examine what options might work for your unique situation with the help of your attorney.