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Working the Holidays into your Parenting Plan


The holidays are for spending time with your family. Every family celebrates holidays a little bit differently, but the one constant in all holiday traditions is that families make time to be together.

When a couple divorces, they face an inevitable dilemma: their holiday traditions will need to change. This often means changing schedules and making new holiday plans. As you work with your spouse and the court to develop your children’s parenting plan, include guidelines for how your child will celebrate future holidays.

Common Ways Families Handle Holidays

Communicate with your spouse to determine what is really important to each of you. You might place a high value on celebrating each holiday on its actual calendar date, whereas your spouse might be willing to be more flexible with holiday celebrations.

Once you and your spouse determine what’s important to each of you, you can work out an arrangement that fits all parties’ needs. There are a few different ways you can work holidays into your parenting plan. These are:

  • Alternating holidays. With this arrangement, the child spends each holiday with one parent. Generally, parents alternate holidays and years with this type of arrangement. For example, an even year might have a child spending Thanksgiving with one parent and Christmas with the other, then have these holidays reversed the following year;
  • Splitting holidays. If you and your spouse live close to each other, you can both celebrate with your child by splitting each holiday in half; and
  • Celebrating each holiday twice. Another arrangement is simply choosing different days for celebrations, like one parent celebrating Thanksgiving with the child on Thursday and the other parent having Thanksgiving dinner on Friday each year.

Additionally, many families work fixed holidays into their parenting plans. These can exist alongside one of the plan types listed above because usually, fixed holidays are holidays only one parent opts to celebrate. For example, if you are Jewish and your former spouse is Christian, you might create an arrangement where your child spends Yom Kippur with you every year and your child spends Easter with your former spouse each year.

Remember, the Holidays are Not Just for you

In many families, holidays are the only time the extended family gets together. If your child primarily sees his or her grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and other extended family members at holidays, keep this in mind when crafting your parenting plan. Although there is no legal requirement for you to consider extended family’s relationship with your child, it is typically in his or her best interest to maintain these relationships.

Work with an Experienced Orlando Family Lawyer

Whether you are developing a new parenting plan or modifying or enforcing an existing one, working with an experienced family lawyer is a way to ensure that your rights are protected, your interests are promoted, and the plan you craft is in your child’s best interest. To get started with an experienced family lawyer in Orlando, contact the Law Offices of Steve W. Marsee, P.A. to set up your initial consultation in our office.


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