How to handle holidays and other special days when co-parenting

Sharing custody is a very frustrating and stressful prospect for most parents. They want as much time with their children as possible and hate the idea of going half a week or every other week between time with their children. Not only do parents worry about losing time overall, but they also fear missing out on important days with their children. Holidays, birthdays, School graduation and an assortment of other special events are times when adults tend to worry about being present with their children.

Therefore, those entering a co-parenting arrangement will typically need to have a plan in place to allow them to share parenting time with one another in a reasonable and fair manner on those special days. The following are the most common solutions for co-parenting on holidays and other special days.

Alternating parenting time

The simplest solution for sharing holidays is to alternate them. Provided that both parents in the household celebrate the same holidays, they can alternate from year to year and between the holidays. One parent will have the children for Halloween and Christmas one year and then Thanksgiving and New Year the next. The alternating approach helps to minimize conflict and makes holiday planning very simple.

Splitting time on special days

Custody exchanges often occur in the middle of the day, and that is exactly what would happen in a split holiday arrangement. The children spend the morning of the holiday at one home and then the afternoon and evening with their other parent. This approach ensures that the children get to see both parents on all major celebratory days. However, custody exchanges during special days can become a source of frustration and possibly conflict between the parents.

Sharing celebrations on special days

When parents can preserve an amicable tone to their relationship, they may be able to coordinate shared celebrations for holidays, birthdays and other special events for their children. Having everyone together may lead to the most meaningful celebrations, but it can also be a challenge if conflicts arise. Some families may start with an alternating or split schedule in hopes of eventually transitioning back to sharing holidays.

Those who settle their custody matters can choose for themselves what approach to employ. Litigated custody matters will result in a judge setting the majority of terms for a family. Knowing how to address common custody challenges may benefit those preparing for a divorce or separation with young children in the family.