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How to handle shared custody on birthdays and holidays

On Behalf of | Jul 10, 2024 | Divorce

Splitting up parenting time can be the most heartbreaking part of a divorce. Parents love their children and want to be present for every milestone, school project and basketball game. When they have to share parenting time after a divorce, they miss out on important moments with their children.

Some of that is inevitable, as people never know what can occur on any given day. A random Tuesday might be the day that a high school student gets asked to prom for the first time. Parents do have to accept that they are likely to miss at least a few developmental and social milestones in a shared custody scenario.

That being said, there are many special days that parents can predict and plan for ahead of time. For example, shared custody arrangements need to include an appropriate division of holidays, birthdays and similar special occasions.

How can parents share special days?

The best approach to dividing parenting time on holidays and other special days depends on several factors. The relationship between the parents, the age of the children and even the number of children in the family can influence the best arrangement.

Some parents establish a basic alternating schedule. They alternate between holidays and have opposite schedules every other year. That allows both parents to celebrate all major holidays with their children in a manner that is relatively fair and even.

Other times, parents can exchange custody on special days. The kids can spend half of their birthday with one parent and the other half with the other parent. This approach helps ensure that both parents have an opportunity to spend time with their children on special days and can help those children feel like they are a priority to both of their parents.

In cases where parents maintain a relatively healthy and amicable co-parenting relationship, they might even agree to share celebrations. Doing so can keep the whole family together and can preserve traditions that the children view as important to their sense of family.

Occasionally, unique family circumstances allow for a different approach. Families with multiple children might have half of the children go with one parent on a holiday and the other half stay with the other. They could work that into an alternating arrangement.

Other times, the parents may come from different cultures or religions and may prioritize different celebrations. A parent with Jewish heritage could have the children for all of their major religious holidays while letting their Christian co-parent celebrate Christmas and Easter with the children.

Trying to find a fair way to address child custody on special days is as important as negotiating a reasonable division of overall parenting time. Parents who explore different solutions can create a custom parenting plan that truly meets the needs of their families.