Arrangements for holiday time
As part of your divorce or parenting plan, you can make a holiday schedule to show where your child will spend holidays and special occasions. This schedule has priority over the day-to-day residential schedule.
Here are some common ways that parents divide and share holiday time:
- Alternate holidays every other year. You can assign holidays to each parent for even years and then swap the holidays in odd years. With this arrangement, you won't miss spending a holiday with your child more than one year in a row.
- Split the holiday in half. You can split the day of the holiday so that your child spends part of the day with each parent. This arrangement requires planning and coordination because you don't want your child to spend holidays traveling all day. This also works best when the extended families both live close by; it is almost impossible to split the holiday in half when one Grandma is in California and the other is in Florida.
- Schedule a holiday twice. You can schedule time for each parent to celebrate a holiday with your child. For example, one parent can celebrate Christmas with the child on Dec. 20th and the other parent on the 25th.
- Assign fixed holidays. You can have each parent celebrate the same holidays with the child every year. If parents have different holidays that they think are important, each parent can have those holidays every year.
You can use any combination of these ways to divide and share holiday time to create holiday arrangements that allow your child to enjoy family traditions and spend quality time with both parents.
Holidays with special considerations
Some holidays have special considerations because both parents usually want to spend time with the child on or near the holiday.
Here are some ideas of how to share and divide these days:
- Your child's birthday: You can schedule a short visit for the parent who doesn't have the child on the birthday, give both parents birthday time in the schedule, or allow the parents to alternate having parenting time on the birthday.
- Parents' Birthdays: Your child can spend some time or the whole day with the parent on the parent's birthday.
- 3-day weekend holidays: These holidays include Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents' Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Columbus Day. Parents can alternate the 3-day weekends, split the weekends, or give the Monday holiday to the parent who already has the weekend with the children as per the regular parenting schedule.
- Mother's Day and Father's Day: Usually your child spends every Mother's Day with the mother and every Father's Day with the father.
- Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving weekend: One parent can have Thanksgiving Day and the other parent can have the weekend, you can give both parents time on Thanksgiving Day and on the weekend, or parents can alternate having Thanksgiving and the weekend.
- The Christmas holiday season: One parent can have Christmas Eve and the other parent can have Christmas Day, one parent can have Christmas and the other parent can have winter break, or you can make New Year's Eve and New Year's Day into one holiday and the parents alternate celebrating it with the children.
Holidays to include in your schedule
Common holidays to include in your holiday schedule include:
- New Year's Day—Jan 1st
- Martin Luther King Jr. Day—3rd Monday in Jan
- Lincoln's Birthday—Feb 12th
- Presidents' Day/Washington's Birthday—3rd Monday in Feb
- February School Vacation
- April School Vacation
- Mother's Day—2nd Sunday in May
- Memorial Day—last Monday in May
- Father's Day—2nd Sunday in June
- Independence Day—July 4th
- Labor Day—1st Monday in Sept
- Columbus Day—2nd Monday in Oct
- Halloween—Oct 31st
- Veterans Day—Nov 11th
- Thanksgiving—4th Thursday in Nov
- Christmas Eve—Dec 24th
- Christmas Day—Dec 25th
- Winter Break/School Vacation
- New Year's Eve—Dec 31st
- Your child's birthday
You can also include:
- Religious holidays
- State holidays
- Days when your child is out of school, like teacher preparation days
- School vacation time, like fall break
- Each parent's birthday
- Other special occasions