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Holiday Visitation

The holidays are often a joyous time for families. However, going through a divorce can make the holidays a particularly difficult time, especially when children are involved. The holidays don’t have to be as difficult as you may think after your divorce. If both parties can come to agreement as to the holiday visitation schedule and be civil during custody exchanges and about respecting each other’s visitation time, then the holidays can again be a joyous time for your family.

Holiday visitation is laid out in the parenting plan. Regarding the holiday schedule, parenting plans typically allow the parties to select one of three options.

  1. There is no special holiday visitation schedule; the regular time-sharing schedule shall apply even during holiday times.
  2. The holiday visitation schedule shall be as the parents agree with no particular schedule set in stone.
  3. The holiday visitation shall be set out in a specific schedule with defined start and end times, while assigning time-sharing to either the father or the mother.

Theoretically, you could make any one of these options work, but there are some issues with the first two options. The issue with the first option is that there is no guarantee your time-sharing with your child will fall on a particular holiday in a given year. Therefore, you may not have time with your children during a particular holiday. The problem with the second option is that if the parents cannot agree on a holiday schedule or if the parents do not get along well enough, then they may never reach an agreement on the holiday schedule and the issue will end in a stalemate likely forcing option 1 to happen.

Winter Break/Specific Winter Holidays

For winter break, the parents typically have two common options. The first option is the split up the winter break into two parts. In this option, one party would have the children for the first half winter break and the other party would have the children during the second half. The parties would alternate which individual gets the first part and the second part each year. For example, in odd years, the father may have the children for the first half of winter break and the mother will have the children for the second half. In the same example, during even years, the mother would have the children during the first half of winter break and the father would have the children during the second half.

If your family celebrates Christmas, time sharing on Christmas Day can be split up where in odd years one party gets Christmas morning and the other party gets Christmas dinner. In even years, the schedule would flip. If both parents get along well enough and have the ability to co-parent well, then the parties could agree that time could be shared with both parents present on Christmas.

For specific holidays that do not fall during winter break, the parents may agree on how that time will be split up each year depending on their particular needs and desires.

Spring Break

For spring break, the parenting plan will typically give the parties five options.

  1. There is no special spring break visitation schedule; the regular time-sharing schedule shall apply even during spring break.
  2. The parents will alternate spring break based on even and odd years.
  3. One parent will have the children for the entire spring break every year.
  4. Spring break may be evenly divided into a first half and a second half. One parent will get the first half and the other will get the second half. The parents may also choose to alternate which parent gets the first or second half each year.
  5. The parents may agree to another schedule that fits their particular needs better.

Other Holidays

All other holidays may be listed out in a chart in the parenting plan. The holidays will typically be split up evenly and will alternate based on whether it is an even or odd year. Specific start and end times must be placed in the chart.

The parties may agree not to alternate certain holidays. For example, the father may have the children even father’s day and the mother may have the children every mother’s regardless of whether it is an even or odd year. 

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