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The Value of a Detailed Holiday Schedule in a Custody Agreement or Order

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Holidays are meant to be times of happiness, but after a divorce, these special days can be times of stress and conflict for parents sharing child custody. To make holidays easier for everyone, parents should plan out a detailed holiday schedule and incorporate it into the custody arrangement.

Most parenting plans include a holiday schedule, but they often only cover the “big” holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year’s, July 4th, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and the children’s birthdays. That leaves numerous other religious and non-religious holidays for which the child’s participation should be planned.

It is important to outline a holiday custody schedule that works for your family. Start by making a list of the holidays that are important to you. Also, don’t forget to include spring break, winter break and other school recesses that don’t fall on traditional holidays.

One practical approach is to develop some form of alternating arrangement. For example, if you agree that your child will spend Thanksgiving with mom in year one, then Thanksgiving in year two should probably be spent with dad. Always keep in mind that your children deserve to celebrate holidays with each parent, not just one. And if at all possible, try to allow for the child to be with the mom on Mother’s Day and dad on Father’s Day.

Questions often arise about how to handle situations where the holiday schedule and the regular custody/visitation schedule conflict. Usually, the holiday schedule takes priority. For example, Thanksgiving is always on a Thursday. If your child normally stays with you on Thursdays, you will need to give up that day in the years when the holiday schedule says the child will spend Thanksgiving with your ex.

There are a variety of ways to build holiday schedules that account for travel distances, work, school and other variables that affect your family. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Jennifer Courtney, P.C. understand that every situation is different and we’re here to help you reach an arrangement that works for you. Please call our Yardley office at 215.493.3360 or contact us online to arrange a meeting.

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