Divorce can be especially difficult around the holidays.
Friends begin sharing holiday “highlight reels” on social media, sentimental advertisements begin to air on television, and everyone else appears to be living within a Norman Rockwell painting.
The key to a happy holiday season, like many other elements of divorce, is a willingness to embrace change, plan ahead, and moderate expectations. The holidays are an excellent opportunity to start new traditions, but the “annual custody battle” should not be among them.
It is very advised that you include a holiday parenting time schedule in your parenting plan.
Plan Your Holiday Visitation Schedule
A holiday visitation schedule is a plan that specifies where the children will spend key holidays, birthdays, and school breaks. It is distinct from the primary custody arrangement.
Typically, parenting plans will include a “rotating holiday schedule,” which indicates that each holiday will be alternated between parents on an annual basis.
Children, for example, spend Thanksgiving with Dad on even years and with Mom on odd years.
Sharing time on a holiday, selecting alternative dates for the “off-year” parent to enjoy a holiday, spending the holidays together, or breaking up the holidays accompanying a long weekend are other choices.
For example, the children may spend Thanksgiving Day with Mom but then spend the long weekend (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) with Dad.
Some holidays mean more to one parent than others. As a result, a combination of different time-sharing strategies may work best for your schedule.
The more explicit the vacation itinerary, the better. To avoid conflicts over transportation and timeliness, arrangements should generally include pickup and dropoff hours.
What will the kids enjoy?
The holiday visitation schedule serves to protect your children’s best interests. While splitting holidays in half may seem appealing, it may leave youngsters stuck in traffic on Christmas.
Parents must assess how the strategy will be implemented in actuality. The holiday schedule should be as consistent as possible, but not at the expense of the children’s well-being. Never place children in a position where they must choose between their parents.
Avoid Conflict by Planning Ahead
When it comes to divorce, unpredictability breeds friction. The more unknowns there is the more potential for disagreement. Creating a holiday parenting time schedule keeps everyone on the same page and allows both parents and children to prepare emotionally for the holiday season. With the security of a plan in place, you can finally begin creating new traditions and cherishing memories.
Communicate with your ex-spouse on a regular basis, and always confirm holiday plans ahead of time. Keep a copy of the holiday custody agreement on hand in case of a dispute.
If done correctly, the only thing a parent has to worry about is gift shopping.