How to Handle Holidays in Your Parenting Plan

How to Handle Holidays in Your Parenting Plan

Every year, Jessie’s parents fought over where she would spend Thanksgiving. Ethan had the opposite problem – both his parents preferred to spend holidays on exotic (and childless) vacations. Sheila hated talking to her ex-husband about the kids’ holidays, so she unhappily capitulated year after year. If you are in the process of getting divorced, know that it’s best to handle holidays in your parenting plan and not on a holiday-to-holiday basis.

Two Major Topics, Many Choices

Parents must complete a parenting plan before finalizing their divorce. In a California divorce, parenting plans cover two major areas:

  • Time-Share – how the children’s time will be split between parents; and
  • Decision making – how decisions about the children’s health, education, and welfare will be handled by the parents.

That sounds fairly easy – until you think of how many topics fall under each major area. For example, Time-Share involves a child’s regular schedule as well as how their time will be spent during holidays.

Scheduling Holiday Time

Trying to decide where your kids will spend Christmas and their birthdays can be stressful. Both parents may want the same days and times. Flexibility and spontaneity work sometimes, but the best time to plan your holidays is when you’re preparing your parenting plan.

In fact, parents prepare and attach a form titled “Children’s Holiday Schedule Attachment” to their parenting plan before submitting it for court approval. The form includes major holidays, as well as:

  • Lincoln’s Birthday (February 12),
  • President’s Day,
  • Spring Break (first and second halves),
  • Columbus Day,
  • Halloween,
  • Veterans Day (November 11),
  • Thanksgiving weekend,
  • December/January School Break, and
  • Birthdays, including child, mom, and dad.

Other options include:

  • Times. For example, the child may be with the mom from 8 pm Christmas Eve until noon Christmas Day.
  • Every Year. For instance, the child may spend Thanksgiving with Dad every year instead of alternating with Mom.
  • Even-Numbered/Odd-Numbered Years. Mom may have the kids on Christmas on even-numbered years, with Dad taking them on odd-numbered years. So, Dad would have them in 2019 and Mom in 2020.

According to the form, the child’s holiday schedule takes priority over the normal parenting schedule. For example, Dad may have the kids every weekend. However, if Christmas falls on Sunday, and it is Mom’s year according to the holiday schedule, then the kids go with Mom.

Scheduling Holidays in Your Parenting Plan Doesn’t Have to Be A Hassle

Do your homework when preparing your plans. If disagreements arise later, know that help is available from the courts if necessary.

Please call us at (415) 293-8314 to schedule a confidential appointment with one of our attorneys. Ms. Burger is a California Certified Family Law Specialist and founder of the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. We assist clients in California’s Northern to Central Coast, including San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Gold River, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities.