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Sharing holidays, vacations and special events as co-parents

On Behalf of | Jun 6, 2023 | Child Custody |

Parents who share child custody almost inevitably disagree about some of the choices concerning their children’s upbringing. One may have a more lenient attitude about screen time than the other, or they both may want to spend the same holidays with the children.

Splitting time with the other parent unfortunately reduces how present one adult gets to be at any given time. Parents understandably tend to fixate on holidays and special events, like birthdays and graduations, which often leads to conflict. Thankfully, there are many ways for current co-parents and those preparing for separation to navigate the challenges of holidays, special events, vacations and birthdays while minimizing the conflict around such special days.

What are common time-sharing arrangements for special days?

Many parents choose an alternating schedule for holidays and birthdays. The children will spend their birthday with one parent one year and the other the next. They will see the parents for every other holiday throughout the year, and then the next year the parents will have the opposite holidays.

Other parents may choose a split schedule. This could involve exchanging custody halfway through a special day. The child could celebrate Christmas morning with one parent and then Christmas evening with the other. In some cases where parents have really committed to cooperative parenting, it may even be possible to share special days. Having the whole family present for birthdays and holidays will often be the simplest solution and one that will be the most beneficial for the children.

What about longer vacations?

School vacations and family trips both often put pressure on parenting plans. Parents can prevent disputes before they start by having rules for vacations. Perhaps the parents will alternate or split school vacations. If one parent has a demanding job, they might even have the children for the majority of the summer to make up for seeing them so little during the school year.

When it comes to family vacations or travel, the parenting plans often include a limit on how long a single trip can last and how far one parent can travel without pre-approval from the other and possibly the courts. Having those rules in place ahead of time will limit the likelihood of parents ending up back in court over a birthday party or a trip to an amusement park during summer vacation.

Adding thoughtful details to a parenting plan early on can help to minimize the risk of conflict. Seeking legal guidance is often a good place to start.