There are a lot of variables that go into creating a holiday schedule. The first thing you must understand is that divorce & custody situations turn a blind eye towards race, religion, creed, sexual orientation, etc. When it comes to attempting to create a shared-parenting plan, it should go without saying that everyone will be sacrificing “special times” – particularly when it comes to holidays.
Our examples will speak to traditional Christian holidays for the most part. This is simply due to the fact that these are the ones with which we’re most familiar. However, as you peruse this page (and this site), do so with your thoughts geared towards your specific situations and, in this case, the holidays that your family normally celebrate. We can discuss your specific holidays in more details via the forums where we can gain a mutual understanding of your circumstances.
Our initial recommendation may not work for you. We can work all that out. It is simply the starting point from which we will work with you to create a potential holiday schedule for you.
What is that recommendation? Prepare to give up holidays on an alternating basis. In the early year(s), it may “stink” for you, the parent. I’ve done both and I can tell you that for the children, trying to split up the main “holiday day” really doesn’t give the children a chance to enjoy the day without being shuffled around, and that’s assuming your logistical situation even would allow for that to take place. You need to begin to understand and take on the mindset that any special day can reasonably celebrated at the next nearest time. Hell, you can celebrate Christmas in July if you want and have it be a grand old time!
Let the children enjoy the full day with the parent who has custody in any given year. They don’t need to celebrate two Christmases “on Christmas Day.” They don’t need to celebrate two Thanksgivings “on Thanksgiving Day.” They don’t need to celebrate two of any special occasion “on that specific day.” Allow for them to have the peace-of-mind and ability to just relax and enjoy it one place. This is our personal belief and understand that any number of situations may suggest you try something else.
The most common way to “whack up” the holidays is by year with mother getting several primary holidays in one year and father getting them the next. You’ll see this done via the “even/odd” method. Further, in order to ensure that the children get to spend some primary holidays with each parent each year, we recommend that you alternate them. As an example:
Holidays, Special Occasions
Physical Custody of the children shall be shared by the parties according to the following schedule which takes priority over regularly scheduled periods of custody:
- Thanksgiving to include the entire weekend of Thanksgiving. Father shall have custody in odd years and Mother shall have custody in even years. Children will be exchanged by 11:00AM on Thanksgiving Day and the return exchange shall take place at 5:00PM on Sunday.
- Christmas shall include December 24th through December 26th, Father shall have custody during even years and Mother shall have custody in odd years. Children will be exchanged by 5:00PM on Christmas Eve and the return exchange will take place at 5:00PM on December 26th.
- New Year’s Holiday to include December 31st, through January 1st. Father shall have custody in odd years and Mother shall have custody in even years. Children will be exchanged by 5:00PM on New Year’s Eve and the return exchange will take place at 5:00PM on January 1st.
- Easter Holiday shall be in accordance with the school calendar. Father shall have custody in odd years and Mother shall have custody in even years. Children will be exchanged by 5:00PM on Good Friday and the return exchange shall take place at 8:00PM on Easter Sunday.
Further, as you can see in the above 4 examples, each major holiday is alternated: Dad Thanksgiving, Mom Christmas, Dad New Years, Mom Easter… and then the cycle reverse… Mom Thanksgiving, Dad Christmas, Mom New Years, Dad Easter… etc.
You can include additional special occasions, too. We suggest you pick an even number of occasions to keep the rotation alternating. So, you might throw in 4th of July and Labor Day.
It is important to specify the exchange dates and times so that planning for events on during those periods can be done, hopefully, without interference.
See the forums for more discussions on how to plan for holidays and special occasions and share your situation so that we may help you prepare a holiday schedule.