Question: What kind of holiday custody schedules are there? My wife and I recently decided to divorce, and the thought of not being with my children during some of the holidays is very upsetting to me. I want to make sure that the schedule is fair.
Answer: I have seen all kinds of holiday custody schedules. There is no one holiday custody schedule that works for every divorced or separated family, but you should seek counsel from a custody attorney to make sure you can reach a holiday custodial agreement that is best for both of you.
If you and your soon to be ex-wife are divorcing on good terms, you may be able to agree on a holiday custody schedule without a court order. Even if you are on good terms that relationship may break down in the future so you should always plan ahead, hoping for the best but expecting the worst. I always recommend the holiday custody schedule should be a part of the custody order. Below are 2 different types of holiday custody schedules.
Divorced or separated couples may decide to alternate holidays. This is the most common division of holidays when both parties celebrate the same holidays. For instance, in year 1, the mom may have custody of the child during Labor Day weekend, while the dad has custody of the child during Memorial Day weekend. In year 2 of such an alternating arrangement, the mom will have custody of the child during Memorial Day weekend, and the father will have custody of the child Labor Day weekend.
Parents do not have to agree to alternate every holiday during the year. In other words, they can decide to only alternate Labor Day and Memorial Day, and not alternate Thanksgiving and Christmas. They may decide to divide the holiday, which is discussed in the next section.
Dividing the Holidays
Parents can divide each holiday, sometimes in conjunction with the alternating schedule. Christmas, for instance, can be divided so that each parent gets time with their children during the holiday. For example, a parent can have custody of the child beginning on December 24th at 8:00 am and ending on December 25th at 2:00 pm. The other parent then has custody of the child beginning on December 25th at 2:00 pm until December 26th at 8:00 pm.
The parents can further agree that the above arrangement will alternate each year. Therefore, one year the mom has custody the first half of Christmas, and the dad has custody the second half of Christmas. Then the next year the dad has custody the first half of Christmas, and the mom has custody the second half of Christmas.
If the parties do not celebrate the same religious holidays it makes it somewhat easier but the national holidays such as July 4th and Memorial Day would still have to be addressed.
Another consideration is if one of the parent’s extended family has an annual get together for one of the holidays. In cases like these, the parents often “trade” for the other like holiday period (i.e. Memorial Day for July 4th), particularly if it requires travel to a distant location.
Other than the above examples, there are many other types of custody schedules in Bucks County custody disputes. In addition, there are other factors we need to consider when planning custody schedules, such as the specific terms of the schedule. See Planning a Newtown and Doylestown, Bucks County Holiday Custody Schedule.
It is difficult to face custodial issues during the holidays, but you are not alone. We, as Newtown custody lawyers, can help you devise a holiday custody schedule that is fair for all parties and in the best interest of your children.