One of the most common questions we receive from divorcing parents is how to split the holidays. Here at Schmidt Law, we understand that both parents want to spend the holidays with their children, and children want to spend the holidays with their parents. We typically advise divorcing parents to set a holiday schedule well ahead of the holidays and stick to that schedule. This allows the parents to plan for the holidays well in advance, and it helps create stability for the children.
Holiday Visitation Option #1 – Split the Holiday
For parents that live close-by but do not desire to spend the holiday together as a family, splitting the holiday is a viable option. This arrangement involves choosing specific times during the day. For example, one parent gets the children between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., and the other parent gets the children from 3 p.m. until 10 p.m. This allows the children to see both parents during the holiday and neither parent feels left out or slighted.
Holiday Visitation Option #2 – One Parent Gets the Holiday
Most parents choose to alternate holidays each year. This can simplify the holiday schedule by reducing the amount of transportation time, and it allows one parent to spend the entire day with his or her children and plan full-day activities. This also reduces the likelihood that the kids will be tired and uncooperative for the second half of the holiday with the other parent.
Holiday Visitation Option #3 – One Parent Gets the Holiday Weekend
For parents who like to travel during the holidays, giving one parent the entire holiday weekend can be advantageous. This allows the children to spend extended quality time with one parent over a holiday weekend and potentially spend time with extended family and friends that they rarely get to visit. Parents usually alternate years with this arrangement.
Holiday Visitation Option #4 – Designated Holidays
Some parents choose to designate specific holidays each year, or one parent always gets a specific holiday each year. This works well for parents that love to celebrate certain holidays but not others. It also allows children to look forward to spending certain holidays with one parent and can create a tradition.
Holiday Visitation Option #5 – Spend the Holidays Together
For families with amicable divorces where the parents live near-by, it is possible to spend the holidays together with the children at a designated household. This arrangement is not recommended for parents where there are negative feelings leftover from the divorce or for parents who are openly hostile towards each other, but for the right families, this works very well. The children get to see both their parents, which can mean more than the gifts they will open and food they will eat. However, it is important to explain to the children that mom and dad are not getting back together. They are simply celebrating the holiday together.
Holiday Visitation Option #6 – No Holidays
Unfortunately, some parents do not get to see their children at all during the holidays. This typically happens when one parent lives very far away or works during the holidays, and schedules cannot be reconciled to allow the children to visit.
Holiday Plan Changes
Occasionally, holiday plans will need to be changed due to unforeseen events. One parent may get called into work, or another issue may force a change to the designated holiday schedule. During these times, it is important to communicate fully with the other parent and children as soon as possible. This allows children time to come to terms with the change, and it allows the other parent to formulate new plans while limiting the stress and anxiety for everyone involved.
Salt Lake City Divorce and Child Custody Attorney
Holiday plans and visitation rights do not have to fit a specific mold. The status quo does not work for all parents, and different doesn’t necessarily mean bad. Here at Schmidt Law, we understand that the transitions during and after a divorce can be difficult and stressful for everyone involved. If you need help putting together a viable parenting and visitation plan for you and your spouse and children, please contact our Salt Lake City office at 801-895-3113. We offer free case reviews and consultations.