Who Gets the Kids for the Holidays?

collaborative-divorceThe need to properly plan parenting time for major holidays in advance.

Planning a shared child custody holiday schedule can be a troubling task for any parent. A well designed schedule is key to ensure your children enjoy their holidays. Read on to learn how to plan a successful holiday schedule for your children.

1. Review Your Child Custody Order Prior to Planning Your Holiday Schedule

Before you plan your holiday schedule, you should review your child custody order. Your child custody order may specify how your holiday schedule should be arranged.

If your child custody order is unclear about who should have custody for a particular holiday, you should connect with the other parent to reach an agreement so there is no confusion when the actual holiday occurs.

Alternatively, if you cannot reach an agreement, you should consult with your attorney to contact the other parent or his or her attorney and propose a schedule.  If need be, a formal meeting or mediation session can be scheduled to establish a reasonable agreement.

2. Work Out a Reasonable Holiday Schedule with the Other Parent

Do not wait to the last minute to prepare a holiday schedule. Holidays take planning when shared custody arrangements are involved. You should create a holiday schedule in advance that is suitable for both parents.

When planning your holiday schedule, you should consider which holidays are important to you. For instance, you may place a greater emphasis on Christmas than the other spouse, who may come from a family background where Christmas Eve was more important. Hence, you and the other parent can negotiate certain holiday schedules based on the importance of each.

If you both place an emphasis on the same holiday, you may be able to rotate each holiday. For instance, you may have the children for Thanksgiving on even years and the other parent can have the children on odd years.

By all means, do not put your children in the middle of a holiday custody dispute. Planning your holiday schedule ahead of time will help you focus your energy on creating wonderful holiday memories with your children. Here is a list of the major holidays to plan for:


  1. Martin Luther King Day

  2. Presidents’ Day

  3. Easter

  4. Passover

  5. Mother’s Day

  6. Father’s Day

  7. Memorial Day

  8. Independence Day

  9. Labor Day

  10. Yom Kippur

  11. Rosh Hashanah

  12. Halloween

  13. Veterans Day

  14. Thanksgiving

  15. Chanukkah

  16. Christmas

  17. New Year

Remember that President’s Day, Easter/Passover, and Christmas/New Year’s Day  involve school recesses.

3. Put Your Holiday Agreement in Writing

Once you determine your holiday schedule, you should put it in writing. This will allow both parents to be on the same page regarding the details of the holiday schedule. Additionally, the agreement must be signed and acknowledged in New York State.  Make sure your written agreement includes alternate plans in the event a parent has to cancel due to unforeseen events.

For more information on how to create a holiday schedule for your children, seek the counsel of David Vallone. As a suffolk county divorce attorney who has negotiated and mediated numerous child custody disputes, David has the ability to help you determine the best course of action in your individual situation.  Call David Vallone at 631-676-7100 to schedule a free consultation if you are seeking information about child custody mediation.

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