As I started trying to find my tablecloths for Thanksgiving (it’s amazing what you lose when you move), I realized the holiday season was upon us and while I love this time personally, as a divorce lawyer it is both very hard and very busy. This is the season where parents have to figure out how to share the kids over some of the most important family days of the year. Thanksgiving, Hanukkah (I know that isn’t the most important, but to the kids its up there) and Christmas. If you are divorcing or divorced and haven’t already handled this for this year, now is the time to work out the schedule with your ex.
Some folks, no matter how bitter, seem to be able to pull back and think of the children and each other; however, many (some years it feels like most) cannot do this. The result is expensive, time consuming and often results in a total loss of parental choice when the judge ultimately has to make the decision. As with any judicial, rather than parental decision, the result generally makes no one happy. It is far better to handle this the way Daniel Clement suggested in his very thoughtful post last December on this topic.
If you are stuck on what kind of schedule to use here are a couple of suggestions:
- For Thanksgiving folks often alternate the holiday through the weekend, or in the alternative split the day, with the parent who gets Thanksgiving dinner handing off to the parent who will have the weekend, and then that schedule can alternate as well;
- For Hanukkah, since there are multiple nights, folks often alternate the first and second nights;
- Christmas is the toughie. A lot of parents feel little kids (who still believe in Santa) should find their presents under the tree at their primary address first thing in the morning. This sometimes results in the non-custodial parent having the kids Christmas Eve Day until early evening, then getting the kids again sometime in the early afternoon on the 25th and having them overnight. Once the children are older this arrangement often changes to an alternate Christmas Eve/Christmas Day split. Some parents will trade the actual holiday itself for the entire post Christmas vacation.
Think hard about what works for your kids, yourself and your ex. Where are the extended families? Will someone have to travel? And remember, no condition is permanent. You can always alternate yearly.