To say that negotiating child custody over the holidays is hard is a study in understatement: it is traditionally one of the hardest and most emotional aspects of divorce. Making matters worse is the fact that once you’ve gotten through hammering out the details in a way that is amenable to both parties, you then need to look at the issue of what happens when the holidays roll around. You need to anticipate special events such as birthdays, time off from school and national, traditional or religious holidays, otherwise you are likely to find parents and extended family are cheated of important opportunities to build memories and celebrate in a way that strengthens family bonds and shared values.

The key to making discussions about holiday custody easier is to keep fairness in the back of your mind at all times. In the absence of a family being together, you need to work to make sure that the children know that both parents want to be with them, and that both parents are working together to make sure that they are able to enjoy the special time in the most positive way possible.

The first thing that needs to be done to create a mutually acceptable holiday custody schedule is to identify all of the times that need to be included, and the best way to do that is to sit down with previous years’ family calendars, as well as your children’s school calendar to make sure that you are aware of long weekends and school holidays. Parents need to keep in mind that there are holidays that they will feel cheated of if they don’t have the opportunity to share at least every other year: these include things as simple and basic as Halloween and the Fourth of July. Once you have created this list, determine whether you want these holidays and events to be shared on a half-day basis, spent together, or whether you’d prefer to have your children every other year. Some parents have chosen to alternate multiday holidays each year, so that one year one parent gets Christmas Eve and the other gets Christmas Day, and then it switches the following year.

When dealing with longer holidays, the same type of decision needs to be made. Do you prefer to alternate three-day weekends and weeks away from school each year, or split them, or stick to the existing custody schedule and let the chips fall where they may?

The most important thing to remember when setting up a holiday schedule is that if you have things in writing, you are always able to make adjustments between you at a later date, but it is much harder to reach an agreement at the last minute. Talk to Reinherz Law Offices before negotiating your custody agreement in order to avoid arguments and heartache in the future.

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