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With the 2020 holiday season fast approaching, you may already be feeling the stress of how to divide time with your children with your former spouse or partner. Because this can be a thorny issue, family law attorneys often include a holiday custody schedule in marital dissolution documents. Both you and your ex-spouse should have input into how to put the children first while sticking to an arrangement that is fair to both of you. Below we discuss some of the most common scenarios we recommend to divorcing couples who share minor children.

Trade Holidays According to Odd and Even Years

With this arrangement, one parent has the children on a major holiday in even years and the other in odd years. For example, the children may stay with you for Christmas in 2020 and with their other parent for Christmas 2021. Each parent should receive close to the same number of holidays during a calendar year regardless of who has primary custody.

While it can be disappointing when your children are not with you on a holiday, you can always celebrate with them on an alternative day. Neither parent should make their children feel sad or guilty about spending the day with the other parent. In fact, they should go out of their way to encourage their children to have a good time celebrating the holiday with their mother or father and that they look forward to hearing about it later.

Divide the Day

Some divorced parents choose to solve the holiday dilemma by both being present with their children for the day. Of course, this arrangement won’t work for all families and would be better to skip if it makes anyone feel tense or uncomfortable. An alternative to this plan is for each parent to have a set number of hours with the children each holiday. You could be with the children until lunchtime, for example, and their other parent could keep them until dinner. However, you need to live close enough to your former partner for the logistics of this arrangement to work.

Fixed Holiday Schedule

If one parent has a strong preference for a certain holiday and the other parent agrees, it is possible to have the same holiday schedule every year. An example would be the kids spend Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve with their dad and Christmas Day and New Year’s Day with their mom. These holidays are often easier to assign because they extend into two days.

A fixed holiday schedule can work with holidays such as Easter, Independence Day, and Thanksgiving too if the holiday matters more to one parent than the other. You can always extend the holidays as mentioned above such as the Friday after Thanksgiving or the Saturday before Easter.

Do You Need Legal Help with Custody or Other Family Law Issues?

Perhaps your former partner will not cooperate with making holiday arrangements or you are just starting the process of divorce. Sara Turner, an experienced family law attorney in Charleston, South Carolina, is here to help. Please complete this form to request a free legal consultation with The Law Office of Sara A. Turner.


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