How Divorced Parents Should Split Holidays

Written by Jonathan Breeden

Working out a parenting plan can be challenging. Once you’ve figured out a regular schedule, you also need a plan for sharing holidays. Holidays are emotional times, so splitting them can be hard. It can also be confusing to understand how a holiday schedule affects your regular parenting schedule.

The North Carolina family lawyers at the Breeden Law Office have experience helping divorced parents deal with post-marriage hurdles, like splitting holidays. We can help you create a workable schedule and resolve any bumps in the road.

Plan the holidays ahead of time with your ex. With offices in Raleigh, Angier, Garner, and Smithfield, call (919) 661-4970 to schedule an appointment.

Sharing Holidays is Important for Divorced Parents

When you and your ex lived together, your children experienced holidays with both of you. Ending your marriage means sharing time, and holidays should be considered when building the schedule.

Kids should have time with parents and extended family on holidays, so creating a plan that either rotates or shares meaningful holidays ensures they have contact with their entire family.

How to Share Holidays after a Divorce

The first thing is to make a list of the holidays that are most important to you and your children. You might include holidays like:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Passover
  • Easter
  • Mother’s Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Father’s Day
  • July 4th
  • Labor Day
  • Rosh Hashanah
  • Yom Kippur
  • Halloween
  • Thanksgiving
  • Hanukkah
  • Christmas Eve
  • Christmas
  • New Year’s Eve
  • Your child’s birthday

Once you have a list, think about the best way to share the holidays. There are several methods to consider. Some parents create a rotating schedule that alternates holidays throughout the year.

Parent A gets New Year’s, Parent B gets Easter, Parent A gets Memorial Day, and so on. Other parents choose to alternate only big holidays by year. So, this year Parent A gets Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, and Parent B gets Christmas Day, but next year, Parent B will have Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, and Parent A will have Christmas Day.

What about School Breaks?

It’s also common to include school vacations on the list. Your child likely has a few days off for Thanksgiving and/or fall holidays, a winter break that coincides with Christmas, and a spring break. The parent who has the assigned holiday can take the school time off, or the time off could be shared.

Think about Sharing the Day

Another approach is to split the holidays in half with the child spending half the day with Parent A and the other half with Parent B. Some families even choose to spend the entire day together as a family in much the same way they used to celebrate.

Spending Holidays with Your Ex

Spending holidays together can be a very useful approach, particularly in the first few years after the divorce, so the children can see and understand that everyone is still a family. It also eases the tensions over who is going to get the big days.

The Impact of Holidays on Your Parenting Plan

One of the challenges of holiday visitation is understanding how it fits in with the regular parenting plan. If it’s Parent A’s weekend, but one of Parent B’s holidays falls on that weekend, who gets the time? The rule is that holiday parenting time trumps regularly scheduled time. So, Parent B gets the holiday time, and Parent A gets whatever remains of the weekend.

Work with Your Custody Lawyer

Working out a holiday parenting schedule takes time and patience, but with sound legal advice, you can create a plan that works for everyone. The experienced family law attorneys at the Breeden Law Office are ready to help you with your holiday parenting plan. Call us at (919) 661-4970 for an appointment.


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A book by Jonathan Breeden