When parents are unmarried or divorcing, they need to find a way to share Thanksgiving and other holidays fairly in their parenting plans. No one wants to miss out on this special family time.
There are at least three good ways to share Thanksgiving and the long holiday weekend:
Scenario 1: Alternate years
One method is to alternate years. In this scenario, you consider Thanksgiving Day itself and the holiday weekend to be one holiday. You set up a time to drop of the children, such as 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday or at 1:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. The children remain with the same parent for the long weekend and return on Sunday evening. You then alternate years.
The downside to this plan is that one parent will get the entire holiday each year and the other parent will get nothing. It may also lack flexibility when the need for changes arises.
Scenario 2: Split the holiday and the holiday weekend
In this scenario, each parent gets a limited amount of time with the children every year. You will split Thanksgiving Day and each parent will get part of the long weekend.
You could arrange to have the children dropped off at one parent’s house at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday and stay until around 3:00 p.m. Thanksgiving Day. Then, the children would head over to the other parent’s house for Thanksgiving dinner and stay through Saturday afternoon. Sunday goes to the parent who had the first part of Thanksgiving Day. These arrangements could be alternated each year.
This is the most travel-intensive plan, which could mean your children come to associate the holiday with a long car ride. However, it may allow you to engage in some traditions, like football or the Thanksgiving Day parade, in years when you don’t have the children for Thanksgiving dinner.
Scenario 3: One gets Thanksgiving, the other the long weekend
In this scenario, you treat Thanksgiving Day and the holiday weekend as separate and alternate who gets which one. For example, one parent could have the children Wednesday night and all day Thursday, while the other gets Friday through Sunday.
This plan leaves the holiday itself intact, without requiring the children to travel. However, only one parent gets Thanksgiving Day with the children each year.
Developing a parenting plan naturally takes some give and take, but you can arrive at a plan you feel is fair. Talk to your divorce or custody attorney to learn about your options.