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How to factor holidays into your parenting plan

When you are going through a divorce, your first concern is probably for your children. You want to protect them and make sure their lives change as little as possible.

A parenting plan, which guides custody and visitation, should protect the best interests of your children. Deciding how you will share custody can be difficult, and it gets particularly hard around holidays. However, if you include a holiday arrangement in your parenting plans, it will make the process go much smoother in the years ahead. Here are a few ways you can share custody over the holidays.

Alternate holidays

One of the most typical ways to share custody over the holidays is to alternate every other year. You could have one parent take even years, and the other parent take odd years for holidays. That means you will get to spend Christmas or Thanksgiving with your child every other year.

Share the holiday

If you and your soon-to-be ex live close, you could agree to split the time on the day of the holiday. Your children could spend the morning with you and then the evening with their other parent. You just want to make sure you plan this well, so your children do not spend the whole day in transit. Or maybe your children spend Christmas Eve with you and Christmas day with your former spouse. There are different ways you can agree to share a holiday.

Celebrate the same holidays together each year

Perhaps you have a tradition for Thanksgiving Day, and you would like to spend it with your children. You could agree to spend certain holidays with your children every year. This will only work if you agree to give up spending other holidays with your children. This kind of tradeoff can work for some families.

Celebrate twice

Just because your children spend a holiday with your former spouse does not mean you cannot celebrate it together before or after. During winter break, you could request that you get to spend the second half of break with your children. Then you and your children can have your own holiday celebration then.

As you discuss possible options with your former partner, remember to be flexible. You likely will have to give up spending some holidays with your children. Try to remember that a parenting plan should put the needs of the children first. Even though you will miss your children, spending time with both of their parents is important.

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