Going through the divorce process is hard on anyone, but when there are kids from the marriage, things become even more difficult.
Even if you are somehow managing to get along well with your spouse through the divorce process, it’s important to lay out a custody arrangement that is detailed enough that both parties are crystal clear on who gets the kids on which days.
Part of that agreement is specifying where the kids go on the holidays, and this can be a little more complicated than saying, “You take Thanksgiving, I’ll take Christmas.”
Which Holidays are Important?
The first step in divvying up the holidays is selecting which holidays your family cares about.
These days, it’s much more common to find families with mixed religious backgrounds. For instance, if the mother is Catholic and the father is Jewish, it’s likely that the parents will prioritize different holidays. In that case it’s clear: Mom gets Christmas, Dad gets Chanukah.
But then we have to take it a step further. Does the family care about Easter? Purim? Which holidays are important enough that they warrant going into the parenting agreement, and which will fall to whoever happens to have the kids on that day already?
This also comes down to how old the kids are. Halloween is a big holiday for younger children, but by the time they’re in middle school they usually want to spend the holiday with their friends. Same goes with 4th of July. As kids get older, some holidays become less important.
Nail Down the Details
Beyond selecting which holidays are the biggies, it’s important to make choices about the details of the agreement. For instance, Easter is usually celebrated in the morning, so if that holiday is included in the agreement and it’s going to be Mom’s day, do the kids go to her house the night before? At exactly what time do the kids go from one house to the other?
Same with Halloween, which is mostly celebrated at night: if that holiday is going to Dad this year, does he get to keep the kids overnight?
In most parenting agreements, the bigger holidays alternate between Mom and Dad. For instance, on even numbered years, Mom gets Memorial Day and Dad gets Labor Day, etc. Every situation is different and each family must find a balance that works for their lifestyle.
However, some holidays are more complicated. Do you divide Christmas Eve and Christmas Day? It gives each party part of Christmas. However, if a family usually travels for Christmas, that will no longer be possible. In that case, the parties may want to alternate with one parent getting both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in one year, and the other parent getting both the following year.
There aren’t any correct answers. It’s what works for this family.
Divorce is already hard enough as it is. If you’re going through the divorce process, be sure to insist that your parenting schedule is specific down to the very last detail to avoid unnecessary heartache in the future.
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