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Creating New Traditions: Holidays And Co-Parenting

When you are in the middle of a parenting time dispute, one of the main issues may be the holiday time and how to share it. Before the divorce was pending, you were able to spend every holiday with your children. Now, you are asked to compromise and divide holiday time so the children can spend time with the other parent. Deciding on a holiday parenting plan is just part of learning how to share your parenting time and allocation of parental responsibilities. Except in very unusual circumstances, courts are going to find ways to allow each parent roughly one half of the holiday parenting time.

How do you go about drafting a workable holiday plan and continue on with your family traditions? Perhaps you have a tradition of always visiting your side of the family during Memorial Day weekend and your former spouse's family out-of-state on Labor Day. Maybe you celebrate Easter and the other parent celebrates Passover. Maybe religious holidays aren't important at all to either parent. How do you balance everyone's holiday interests in this divorce tug-of-war? One way is to create new traditions and respect continuing ones to the extent possible. 


Regardless of what is important to you, compromise is necessary to allow both parents and the children to create new traditions. What do we mean by new traditions? We mean creating new events or family visits that will have meaning going forward. While you may have always done something one way in the past, it is time to work out a way to share that precious holiday time with the other parent. After all, the day itself shouldn't matter as much as the time spent with your children and the feelings that your children have about being able to spend holiday time with each of their parents.

How do you implement a holiday schedule that works for both parents and the children? One way is to map out all the important dates or holidays to your family. Then decide what times those events may begin and end. For example, is Memorial Day just a day from 9-7 or is it a whole weekend from Friday afternoon through Tuesday morning? After you have these details hammered out, you may want to decide that one parent always gets a certain holiday or you may agree that the holidays are alternated based on whether it is an even year or odd year. 

These types of decisions can be easier than you think. Having certainty before the holidays can alleviate the stress of the unknown. The children will know where they will be and everyone can make appropriate plans. If you really want a certain holiday, you may find that you don't care as much about ones you celebrated in the past. In cases with very high conflict, it is usually necessary to be very specific as to the beginning and ending times for each holiday, as well as how the children will be transported from one parent to the other. If you and your spouse or partner are struggling to develop a holiday parenting plan, working with a family law mediator can be a method to reach resolution.

Overall, coming up with a specific holiday plan as well as way to address creating new traditions will leave everyone better off in the long run. Try a new approach to alleviate the stress and you may find that the quality of the time spent with your children is improved.

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Littman Family Law

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