Sharing Child Custody During the Holidays

Sharing Child Custody During the Holidays

As children get ready to end summer break and go back to school, divorced parents are thinking about something else: Christmas. No, they are not thinking about buying presents and decorations already. They are thinking about custody schedules, anxious about whether or not they will get to see their children open presents on December 25.

This is a real issue for divorced mothers and fathers across the country. Their parenting plans may not dictate what will happen once the children get out of school for winter break. Who has the children on December 24 or 25? Will you have to settle for New Year’s Day this year?

Christmas is a holiday that people of all ages look forward to all year long. This time of year can be rife with conflict as parents argue over who gets the children on a certain date. Unfortunately, not every parent can have the children on Christmas, so for a mother or father to spend Christmas Day with their children, it requires a lot of negotiation and compromise.

Christmas will be here before you know it, so now is the time to start communicating with your ex-spouse and letting him or her know about your goals and intentions in regards to custody for this time of year. Not sure how to go about doing so? Here are some tips and possible scheduling alternatives to keep in mind as you go through the process.

Tips for Negotiating a Schedule


Here are some ways to get the schedule you want:

  • Check the parenting plan. In many cases, the parenting plan will outline child custody situations for holidays, including Christmas. If you and the other parent do not have a plan in place, think about conversations you two may have had or consider what you have done in previous years.
  • Be prepared for the other parent’s answer. You can make a request to change the parenting schedule for the holidays. However, the other parent does not have to agree to it. He or she may have other plans in place. Therefore, be prepared to accept either a “yes” or a “no.”
  • Be clear about what you want. Do not be vague when presenting your ex with your request. Be clear about the specific reason why you are seeking a schedule change. Things happen during the holidays. Perhaps you want your children to attend a family gathering or see a play for which you already have tickets. Honesty goes a long way in these situations. If your ex has reason to suspect you are lying or being sneaky, he or she will be less likely to say yes.
  • Discuss your ex’s desires. There are two parents involved. It is not all about you. Take some time to talk to your ex about his or her desires. Does he have specific plans during this time of year? By taking the time to show you understand that your ex’s desires are just as important as yours, you will be better poised to have negotiations go in your favor.
  • Compromise. If your ex is graciously willing to let you take the kids on Christmas day, be sure to make it up to them by offering them more time at a later date. Perhaps they can take the kids for an extra day later that week. Maybe they can have the children on Christmas the following year.
  • Do not get the children involved. This is not their decision to make. If you truly want to have the kids at a certain time, it is up to you to negotiate this with your ex on your own. Do not use your children to accomplish your goals. This is not their responsibility.

Ideas for Holiday Schedules


Search online and you find numerous ideas for sharing custody of the children during the holidays. Depending on the age of your children, your goals and any events you have in mind during the Christmas season, you can create a fitting custody schedule in a variety of ways.

For example, if your kids are in school, they may have two weeks off at Christmas. You can choose to have one parent take the children for one week, and the other parent have the children the other week. While this approach is easy enough to implement, many parents are against it because it means one parent gets the children during Christmas, and the other gets the kids around New Year’s. Often, both parents want the children on or around Christmas.

Since there is Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, it may be more fair for one parent to get the children on one day and the other parent on the other. If one parent does get the children for Christmas, it would be fair to allow the other parent to have the children on Christmas the following year. There are many ways to come up with an agreeable schedule, depending on both the children’s and the parents’ time-off schedule.

Seek Legal Help


Christmas is a fun time of the year for children and parents alike. Divorced mothers and fathers often want to keep certain traditions alive, but this can be challenging when both parents want the child at the same time. Coming up with an effective parenting schedule can help.

This requires communication with the other parent, and this is not always possible after a contentious divorce. Advice from a legal professional can help you achieve the results you desire.

With the holidays approaching, it is important to be prepared in terms of child custody and visitation. Contact Palm Beach divorce attorney Scott J. Stadler today. He can help you create an effective schedule that will allow you and your ex-spouse to share the holidays with the children. For a free consultation, call his office today at (954) 346-6464.