The holidays can be a stressful time for any family – especially for divorced parents who both want to make meaningful holiday memories with their children. Making, or adjusting a holiday visitation schedule that works for both parties is an important part of successful co-parenting, and each unique family needs to agree to a schedule that works for their specific needs.
How to Make Holidays Enjoyable for the Kids
Holidays and other special occasions, such as birthdays, are often an exception to the rule when it comes to your visitation schedule. The holiday schedule has priority over the normal routine. For example, your child may alternate weekends at different households, but just because a holiday lands on a weekend during the usual rotation doesn’t necessarily mean that the child needs to spend the holiday at that household.
While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, here are some common ways that families plan for the holidays:
- Alternate holidays every other year. An easy way to keep track is to assign even years to one parent and odd-numbered years to the other parent. This strategy sets clear expectations and helps parents and kids plan ahead.
- Share time during the holiday. This model takes some careful planning and coordination between parents so that the holiday is not spent traveling between households, but a child can spend the morning/mid-day at one house and the afternoon/evening at the other.
- Celebrate twice. One parent can celebrate the holiday on the actual calendar date, while the other parent celebrates with the child on a different date. For example, a child’s birthday can be celebrated in two different households over two consecutive weekends.
- Prioritize. If parents have different holidays that they think are most important, that parent can be assigned that holiday more often – perhaps even every year. That goes a long way when establishing a routine, makes it easier to plan and keep up with traditions associated with a particular holiday.
- Combine strategies. Every family is unique, and parents can work together to combine any number of the strategies outlined above that work for them and their children.
Other factors, such as the distance between households, will also be a factor when making a holiday schedule that works for your family. If the transition time between households involves a long drive or an airplane, longer yet less frequent visits may be in order.
Ultimately, working to find common ground with the other parent is the best way to create or modify a holiday visitation schedule. If you and the other parent agree on the changes, your new plan can be filed with the court and it is very likely the court will accept it.
Our Compassionate Carlsbad Family Lawyers are Here to Help
If you and the other parent are unable to come to an agreement, an experienced Carlsbad family law attorney can help guide you through a process to find common ground and arrive at the best-case scenario for all family members. At Griffith, Young & Lass, our team of experts routinely handles a wide range of legal matters and will provide outstanding service for you and your family.