Working Out a Holiday Visitation Schedule after Divorce

By Henry F. Lewis on April 10, 2019

Signing legal paperworkDivorce can be a complicated and emotional matter, especially when children are involved. However, by anticipating potential custody issues and making appropriate arrangements in advance, parents can avoid a lot of conflict and make things much more comfortable for their children.

Holidays tend to be a particular area of contention when it comes to child custody, which is why the divorce lawyers at Gardner & Lewis, LLP recommend making a holiday visitation schedule well in advance. Working out a holiday visitation schedule after divorce allows our Oakland, CA clients to plan accordingly and give their child(ren) the comfort of knowing that they will still enjoy holiday time with their families. Here we offer a few tips that can make holiday scheduling a little easier.

Plan Ahead

The thought of missing out on a holiday with your child can be difficult, but a planned schedule gives both parents and children time to adjust to their new routine. To avoid last-minute arguments about who will get a child for the holidays, it is best to plan out a holiday visitation schedule well ahead of time. Ideally, the entire year should be scheduled and agreed upon by both parents.

Be Accommodating

Even when a holiday visitation schedule is in place, it is best to be flexible and accommodating. Sometimes work schedules, illnesses, or other unforeseen circumstances may require that small adjustments be made. In instances such as these, it is always best to compromise as needed, and keep the best interest of the children in mind.

Consider All Holidays

When parents make holiday visitation schedules, they often remember the major holidays, like Christmas, Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, Halloween, and Easter. However, there are many other holidays to consider, such as important family birthdays, New Year’s Eve, Memorial Day, and Labor Day.

It is up to the parents to decide which holidays they want included in their visitation schedule. Some parents opt to regulate just the major holidays and stick to regular visitation schedules for minor holidays, while others want to plan out each event. It can be helpful to get out a calendar and go month-by-month to avoid missing any days that are important to your family.

Choose a Schedule That Is Best for Your Child

There are several ways in which holiday visitation schedules can be divided. It is up to each family to decide which schedule works best for them and their child. Typical holiday visitation arrangements include alternating holidays, sharing time on the holiday, and creating a time for each parent to celebrate the holiday with the child.

If a family alternates holidays, they would create a list of all the holidays that are important to them and split them up among the parents. For example, they may choose to have the child spend Halloween with one parent, then go with the other parent for Thanksgiving, and return to the first parent for Christmas, etc. When holidays are alternated, it is common to swap holidays the following year, so that if a parent misses Easter one year, they have it the next year.

Sharing the day of the holiday is another option, if the parents live close to one another. This schedule has its benefits, but it can also be tiring for the child, so this arrangement should be planned carefully to avoid the child going back and forth throughout the day. An example would be allowing a child to spend Christmas morning with one parent, and then designating a time partway through the day when they will go with their other parent.

Finally, some parents choose to make time for each parent to celebrate holidays individually with the child. For instance, if the child will be with one parent on Thanksgiving, the other parent may get a day the weekend before Thanksgiving to do a separate celebration. As with alternating holidays, parents with this arrangement often choose to swap their schedule each year so that each parent gets a turn with their child on the actual holiday.

Learn More

If you have questions about divorce or how to best handle child custody issues, the divorce lawyers at Gardner & Lewis, LLP would be happy to help. Contact us at your earliest convenience to learn how we can assist you throughout a divorce proceeding, or call (510) 451-4822 to schedule a personal consultation.

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Oakland Office

1939 Harrison St
Ste 210
Oakland, CA 94612

More Info Directions (510) 451-4822