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Making Your Holiday Visitation Schedule

Joseph Coupal - Friday, December 28, 2018

Arrangements for holiday time

Walsh Law Office, Hingham, MAAs part of your divorce or parenting plan, you can make a holiday schedule to show where your child will spend holidays and special occasions. This schedule has priority over the day-to-day residential schedule.

Here are some common ways that parents divide and share holiday time:

  • Alternate holidays every other year. You can assign holidays to each parent for even years and then swap the holidays in odd years. With this arrangement, you won't miss spending a holiday with your child more than one year in a row.
  • Split the holiday in half. You can split the day of the holiday so that your child spends part of the day with each parent. This arrangement requires planning and coordination because you don't want your child to spend holidays traveling all day. This also works best when the extended families both live close by; it is almost impossible to split the holiday in half when one Grandma is in California and the other is in Florida.
  • Schedule a holiday twice. You can schedule time for each parent to celebrate a holiday with your child. For example, one parent can celebrate Christmas with the child on Dec. 20th and the other parent on the 25th.
  • Assign fixed holidays. You can have each parent celebrate the same holidays with the child every year. If parents have different holidays that they think are important, each parent can have those holidays every year.

You can use any combination of these ways to divide and share holiday time to create holiday arrangements that allow your child to enjoy family traditions and spend quality time with both parents.

Holidays with special considerations

Some holidays have special considerations because both parents usually want to spend time with the child on or near the holiday.

Here are some ideas of how to share and divide these days:

  • Your child's birthday: You can schedule a short visit for the parent who doesn't have the child on the birthday, give both parents birthday time in the schedule, or allow the parents to alternate having parenting time on the birthday.
  • Parents' Birthdays: Your child can spend some time or the whole day with the parent on the parent's birthday.
  • 3-day weekend holidays: These holidays include Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents' Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Columbus Day. Parents can alternate the 3-day weekends, split the weekends, or give the Monday holiday to the parent who already has the weekend with the children as per the regular parenting schedule.
  • Mother's Day and Father's Day: Usually your child spends every Mother's Day with the mother and every Father's Day with the father.
  • Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving weekend: One parent can have Thanksgiving Day and the other parent can have the weekend, you can give both parents time on Thanksgiving Day and on the weekend, or parents can alternate having Thanksgiving and the weekend.
  • The Christmas holiday season: One parent can have Christmas Eve and the other parent can have Christmas Day, one parent can have Christmas and the other parent can have winter break, or you can make New Year's Eve and New Year's Day into one holiday and the parents alternate celebrating it with the children.

Holidays to include in your schedule

Common holidays to include in your holiday schedule include:

  • New Year's Day—Jan 1st
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day—3rd Monday in Jan
  • Lincoln's Birthday—Feb 12th
  • Presidents' Day/Washington's Birthday—3rd Monday in Feb
  • February School Vacation
  • Easter
  • April School Vacation
  • Mother's Day—2nd Sunday in May
  • Memorial Day—last Monday in May
  • Father's Day—2nd Sunday in June
  • Independence Day—July 4th
  • Labor Day—1st Monday in Sept
  • Columbus Day—2nd Monday in Oct
  • Halloween—Oct 31st
  • Veterans Day—Nov 11th
  • Thanksgiving—4th Thursday in Nov
  • Christmas Eve—Dec 24th
  • Christmas Day—Dec 25th
  • Winter Break/School Vacation
  • New Year's Eve—Dec 31st
  • Your child's birthday

You can also include:

  • Religious holidays
  • State holidays
  • Days when your child is out of school, like teacher preparation days
  • School vacation time, like fall break
  • Each parent's birthday
  • Other special occasions

For assistance with holiday visitation schedules or parenting schedules, contact Walsh Law.


Managing Divorce and Children During the Holidays

Joseph Coupal - Friday, December 29, 2017

Walsh Law Office, Hingham, MAWhile co-parenting with your ex is never easy, there are certain times of year when it may be more difficult than others. While the holiday season is supposed to bring out the best in everyone, it often brings out the worst in our former spouses (or in us when we have to interact with them). Knowing that, it is best to keep the following ten tips in mind as you navigate the holiday season with your children and your ex.

1. Remember the holidays are not all about you.

Your children deserve their celebrations even if you feel cheated out of yours. Encourage them to have a blast with their other parent, even if you can't stand the prospect of being alone.

2. A lesson from Scrooge: Get into the spirit of the season.

This is a time of giving, forgiving, and fresh starts. Turn Scrooge's emotional lessons about holidays past, present, and yet to come into New Year's resolutions about letting go of anger and treasuring all you have -- despite all you have or might have lost.

3. Another lesson from Scrooge: Love means far more than money.

Your time, attention, and emotional presence are much more important to your children than lavish gifts. You may be short on money but you can always be long on love.

4. The holidays are not a competition with your ex or for your children.

Teach your children the true meaning of the holidays, not the meaninglessness of materialism.

5. Communicate and coordinate with your children's other parent.

A brief email, telephone message, or conversation can insure that you don't duplicate presents (imagine trying to explain why Santa brought the same gift to both houses when he is all-knowing!) or plan back-to-back feasts for stuffed and confused children. Ten minutes now can save days (or weeks) of fuming later.

6. Do the details.

Work out exactly where your children will be during all times, and determine when, where, and how exchanges will take place. Your children will feel more secure, and all of you will avoid frustration and disappointment.

7. Celebrate with your children's other parent.

Consider celebrating part of the holidays together with your children's other parent, especially if your separation is fairly recent. Some people are shocked when divorced families celebrate holidays or birthdays together. Go ahead and shock them! You might even find that you have some fun!

8. Set up a plan for next year now.

If you went through the agony of 11th hour negotiations this year, set up a plan for next year now (or after New Year's). Everyone will be happier knowing what is coming, and avoiding conflict on the eve of the holidays.

9. Plan in advance with your extended family.

Work things out in advance with your own extended family too, whether that means that you say "no" to them, you spend the holidays a little differently than usual, or you ask for your family's understanding and help.

10. Establish traditions with your children.

Establish traditions with your children, even new ones that may be different from past rituals. Your kids may not remember the details of years past, but year-in, year-out traditions will stay with them for a lifetime.

For more information on parenting plans or child custody, contact Walsh Law.


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