When it comes to co-parenting, dividing Christmas and the winter holidays is probably at the top of your list. Every parent wants to share the holiday season with their kids, but it must be divided fairly. When developing a parenting plan, you should focus primarily on your children’s needs.
There are many ways to share the holiday season. Each has some pros and cons. Think about what would make your children’s winter break fun and magical while preserving each parent’s opportunity to share in that magic.
When we talk about the holiday season or the winter holidays, we generally mean Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day and the school break that generally surrounds these holidays.
Option 1: Splitting each holiday
If you like, you can give each parent some time with the children on each of the four feast days. Doing this would require the kids to be driven from one parent’s home to the other’s on each holiday, and it could lead to the dreaded “Christmas in the car.”
You may want instead to assign one holiday to each parent. For example, one parent could get Christmas Eve and early Christmas morning, while the other gets Christmas Day. Then, the roles could switch so that the opposite parent gets New Year’s Eve and the first parent gets New Year’s Day. These schedules could then alternate the following year.
Option 2: Dividing the season in half
Depending on your kids’ school schedules, it may be possible to assign the first half of the holiday season, including Christmas Eve and Day, to one parent. The other parent would get the second half of the holiday season, including New Year’s Eve and Day.
Which parent gets which holiday could alternate each year. This is often a good choice for parents who live farther apart and can’t transport the kids quickly and easily to the other parent’s home.
Option 3: Alternating the whole season
Especially if parents live far apart, it may be best to assign the entire winter break, including Christmas and New Year’s, to one parent in odd years and the other parent in even years. If this is the most convenient choice for your family, be sure and allow lots of phone calls and emails during the holiday season so the other parent isn’t left out entirely.
If you alternate the whole season from year to year, you may wish to alternate another special time as well. For example, the parent who didn’t get the winter holidays would get the children for their birthdays or for a summer vacation.
Shared custody takes planning and good communication. Work with your divorce attorney to come up with options that work for your family.