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Holiday visitation schedules: An important part of custody plans

Holiday schedules are an important part of a custody plan. If you leave them out, you may find yourself more than a little upset when you realize that your ex has the kids on your birthday or the date of the yearly family gathering during the Christmas break that your kids have attended since they were born.

Here are some ideas about how to write a holiday plan into your visitation schedule that allows you and your ex to keep the spirit of the season alive:

  1. Make a list of all the important holidays to you throughout the year, religious and secular. Your ex should do the same so that you can make sure all the big dates are covered. Don’t forget birthdays as well as Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.
  2. Rank your most important dates. This will help you determine where you and your ex have areas of conflict and which ones you can trade for dates that matter more. For example, maybe you consider Thanksgiving a chore and would be just as happy having an excuse to sit home eating Chinese takeout rather than spending it with your family. Your ex, meanwhile, may consider it a top priority. You can trade off the right to have the kids on alternating Thanksgiving for something you really love — like going trick or treating on Halloween.
  3. If you live close together, consider splitting some of the major holidays instead of rotating them. For example, instead of spending alternating Christmases with the kids, you could set things up so you just alternate where the kids spend Christmas Eve and Christmas morning, and then change houses by noon.
  4. Be kind about important personal days — let your ex have the kids on his or her birthday and other “personal” holidays — like their grandmother’s birthday or a family reunion. Ask for the same for yourself.
  5. If you and your ex can be civil for a few hours and really want what’s best for the kids, consider sharing their birthdays. Agree to hold the birthday parties at neutral locations so that nobody has to feel too uncomfortable — the local pizza joint probably has a party room you can use or you can all meet for dinner somewhere if the kids are older.

For more tips on how to make an effective child custody calendar, talk to your attorney today.

Source:, “Holiday Visitation Issues,” accessed Sep. 08, 2017