Holidays are never quite the same after a divorce. That goes for the end of the year but it stays true well into the New Year and beyond. There is hope for children of divorce, however. All you and your ex have to do is agree on scheduling. If you think this means you’ll exchange calendars without ever having to discuss the matter, think again. The key will be to communicate and compromise with minimum disruption to the lives of the children.
Let’s start with a general guide to holiday scheduling. Here are just a few suggestions:
- Alternate holidays. This may be the most simple, traditional arrangement. Assign a holiday to one parent for one year and to the other parent, the next year. Your off year will be rough but as long as both stick to the arrangement, the time apart will always be a fixed amount.
- Divide the holiday. Part of the day is spent with you, part with your ex. The up side to this option is that you will see your children every year on a given holiday. The down side is that possible disruption does lie in the fact that your children will spend part of the holidays traveling.
- Schedule the holiday twice. This one may mess with tradition but it could be the most fun for the kids. You may be surprised to find out how unattached your kid is to the actual day when they find out they get to have it twice.
- Assign fixed holidays. With this, we’re back to a more traditional approach. However, it may allow you to adapt the schedule more according to family tradition. You and your ex come from different families that may each put their emphasis on different holidays. If it works, plan for each parent to have the kids for their respective, chosen holidays.
Now, let’s get more specific. This is why divorced parents must strive to coordinate year-round, even if a general plan was agreed upon. Scheduling does get tricky. There will always be special occasions that require nimble thinking. Take these, for example:
- Birthdays! A child’s birthday is probably the greatest holiday of all, to the child. The only two people who might feel the same would be the parents. So, needless to say, the big day deserves extra attention. If one parent has the kid on the birthday, there is no reason why the other cannot have a short visit. Alternating is still a possibility if both or either of you is unwilling to share the day. There is always your own birthdays. It is certainly conceivable that the greatest gift you can imagine is time with your kids.
- Three Day Weekends! Examples of three day weekend holidays are Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day and Columbus Day. Fittingly enough, there are three approaches to the three day weekends. As always, there is alternating the entire weekend. You can divide the weekend somehow. Or, if one of you already has the weekend, give the actual Monday holiday to the other.
- Winter Break! As long as kids are in school, we’re never just talking Christmas or any one winter holiday. We’re talking about winter break. Using Christmas as the example, we’re not just talking about Christmas Day, we’re talking about New Year’s Day. Both of those days have eves! Then there are the days between. Arguably, this could be the one time of year where your ex is a little more willing to let you have the kids. Alternating and dividing are still the most likely options but now you have more than just a day or weekend to divide. You might take the kids for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day but send them to your ex for the rest of the break, or vice versa.
When all the coordinating is done, the end of the year will still be a blur. The next thing you know, it will be 2018. It starts with a holiday and kicks off another year of them. Ideally, communication and compromise will be abound and your children’s lives will not be disrupted. Otherwise, you may run into the occasional disagreement, or worse. As a family law attorney, I remain available to you year-round, ready to discuss your scheduling issues.