Navigating the holidays can be tricky as it is but adding divorced or blended families to the mix can make it even more difficult. Figuring out which parent will get custody of the kids for the holidays can cause a lot of stress, pain, and frustration. This is typically a common situation that occurs when one parent is awarded a larger custody percentage than the other parent.
As you are working to design your child custody agreement keep in mind there will be instances where you will need to compromise, and it is likely you won’t be able to spend every single holiday with your children.
When mapping out a custody plan, it’s important to consider the following:
Creating a child custody plan is a delicate process. Here are three custody plans that parents have used for the holidays.
Both parents get to spend all holidays with their kids, just not every year. Even year/odd year plans stipulate that parents will alternate holidays every year.
Example: Dad gets custody of the kids for Christmas Day, New Years Day, and the Fourth of July in all even years. Mom gets custody of the kids for those holidays in all odd years.
Sometimes a particular holiday is more important to one parent than the other. Whether the reason is due to family traditions or a lack of celebrating religious holidays, if you and your ex are amenable you can choose to identify which holidays are most important to each and split them that way.
Example, Mom is religious and celebrates Easter, but Dad does not. In this agreement the Mom will get Easter every year and the Dad will get the Thanksgiving every year and they will alternate Christmas.
Another example of this is Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. If one parent’s family has a celebration on Christmas Eve, but doesn’t do anything on Christmas Day (or vice versa) consider making a permanent arrangement for splitting the two days of Christmas.
Kids that attend public school generally have four long breaks from school during the year: a December break, mid-winter break, spring break, and summer break. Many child custody agreements allow one parent to get custody for winter break while the other gets custody for spring break. Similar to alternating holidays, custody can alternate each year for school breaks or be permanent, depending on the parents’ preferences.
Example: Parent A gets custody of the kids for Christmas and Easter break on even years, while Parent B gets custody of the kids for spring break, plus an extra week in the summer. The rest of the summer is then split evenly.
Parents have a lot of control over the details of a child custody agreement, especially if they can come to an agreement together without having to get the courts involved. The court is likely to sign off on the arrangement as long as the parents divide custody equitably. Keep in mind that equitable won't always mean equal, it’s very common for parents to have different timeshare custody percentages.
For example, the custodial parent may have custody of the children 70 percent of the time, while the non-custodial parent would have custody of the kids for the remaining 30 percent of the time. Custody agreements should be designed with these percentages in mind.
If you need assistance creating a custody plan for the holidays contact the Relevant Law office nearest you.
**Disclaimer: The content used in the article is not to be used as legal advice and is for illustration and general informational purposes only. If you have questions about your particular situation, please contact us to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.