One of the most difficult aspects of crafting a parenting plan for child visitation is addressing the holidays. Parents can create a holiday schedule detailing which parent will spend time with their children on certain holidays and other special occasions, such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, children’s birthdays, etc. By creating their own schedule, parents and children benefit by not only having direct input in the schedule, but priority is given to a schedule created by parents over any other custodial time ordered by the Court.
To address family visits and events, most parents create a schedule which alternate holidays every other year. With this arrangement, neither parent spends the same holiday with their children for more than one year in a row. For example – children can spend Thanksgiving with father in 2016 and alternately with mother in 2017.
Another approach is to split the holiday in half. With this arrangement, children would spend time with each parent during the holiday. This can include parents splitting the day in half so the children spend time with each parent during the holiday or splitting a long weekend, such as Veteran’s Day, in half.
A new approach allows each parent to celebrate a special event with their child(ren). Parents can choose to schedule the holiday twice to fully celebrate rather than alternating or splitting the day. For example, one parent can celebrate Christmas with the children on December 20th and the other parent on the 25th. I favor this type of schedule because rather than missing a holiday with the other parent, children are able to celebrate the same holiday twice and visit with all their family!
Finally, there are situations where a holiday is unique and important to one parent. In these instances, it can be arranged so that one parent can celebrate the same holiday with the children each year.
You can use any combination of the above to divide and share holidays, allowing children to enjoy family traditions and have quality time with both parents. For a list of the most commonly considered holidays, visit: http://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/fl341c.pdf .