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Plan ahead for your holiday child custody schedule

The holiday season is quickly approaching. Halloween has passed us, and Thanksgiving and the winter holidays will be here before we know it. For divorced parents, this means setting up a holiday child custody schedule or reviewing an existing one. This step is best done well before the holidays, as making a last-minute decision can cause pressure and conflict. Parents do have choices, however, about how they want to celebrate the holidays with their child.

One option is to alternate holidays each year. For example, one parent might have Thanksgiving with the child in 2017, and the other parent will have Thanksgiving with the child in 2018, and then the first parent will have Thanksgiving again with the child in 2019, the second parent in 2020, et cetera. This does mean, however, that parents will end up spending certain holidays without the child.

Another way to handle the holidays after a divorce is to have the child spend each holiday with each parent, just at different times. For example, the child might spend Christmas morning with one parent, and Christmas afternoon with the other. It is important, however, that such time-splitting is not too hectic, as this could be stressful for the child.

A third way parents could handle the holidays post-divorce is to have the child spend the holiday with one parent on the date of the holiday, and then celebrate the same holiday with the other parent either the weekend before or after the holiday itself. If parents can cooperate and remain flexible this plan could provide the most stability for the child.

Finally, one rather unusual way for divorced parents to celebrate the holidays with their child is to put their differences aside, and have both of them celebrate the holidays with the child together. This option may only work if parents have an amicable relationship with one another post-divorce and can successfully co-parent. If there is a chance that such arrangements could lead to conflict, it is best to choose a different custody plan for the holidays.

As this shows, parents have choices when it comes to child custody over the holidays. In the end, it is important that the plan chosen is in the best interests of the child. By carefully reviewing their options, parents can choose a holiday parenting schedule that is fair to all involved.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Putting Children First: The Best Gift Divorced Parents Can Give Their Children This Holiday Season,” Randi L. Rubin, Nov. 20, 2012

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