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The Holidays & Your Parenting Plan: Handling Christmas as a Co-Parent

For many co-parents, the holidays are unfortunately just as stressful as they are exciting. Between school breaks, holidays, and job schedules, many co-parents find themselves scrambling to figure out an effective way to split time over events such as Christmas.

Taking the right precautions and establishing a plan for handling the holidays before they roll around can help you and your co-parent establish an effective, equitable plan for handling the holidays.

At Gille Kaye Law Group, PC, we can help represent you in a child custody case or modify an existing parenting plan. For more information, contact our office online or via phone at (626) 340-0955.

Figuring Out How to Split Christmas & New Year's with Your Co-Parent

For many parents, the most stressful part of the holidays is figuring out how to split Christmas and New Year's.

How you choose to split time over Christmas and New Year's depends on several factors, including the type of timeshare agreement you already have with your co-parent.

Some common timeshares include:

  • The 2-5 timeshare, where one parent spends two days (usually the weekend) with the child(ren), the other spends five days (usually the week), and then they switch off.
  • The 2-2-5-5 timeshare, where both parents spend two days, then five days with the child(ren);
  • The 3-4 timeshare, which works like a 2-5 timeshare but with a different number of days per split, and;

The alternating weeks timeshare, where parents trade off weeks in which each has custody of the child(ren).

Depending on the timeshare you have, Christmas and New Year's could either fall within one parent's allotted custody time, or between periods of custody.

How you adjust your timeshare arrangement depends on several factors, including:

  • The holidays you celebrate. If you celebrate Hanukkah instead of Christmas, for example, you'll want to change your holiday plans to reflect that.
  • Whether either party has a changing work schedule over the holidays. Individuals who work in seasonal industries, from retail to food to event organization and beyond, may have different schedules over the holidays or even work during the holidays.
  • The time your child(ren) have off. Most schools give children at least a couple of weeks off for the holidays around Christmas. Elements like whether your children need daycare or how their time off coincides with your work schedules will play a role in how you change your timeshare for the holidays.
  • Whether your or your co-parent plan on taking a vacation. If one or both of you plans on taking some time off with the kids, that may impact how you choose to split holiday events.
  • How amicable you are with your co-parent. Whether you can tolerate being around your co-parent for extended lengths of time obviously affects how you choose to divvy up the holidays.

Given all of the above factors, most parents opt for one of the following options when it comes to handling custody over the holidays:

  1. Give one parent each holiday. For example, you get Christmas Eve with the kid(s), while your co-parent gets Christmas day. This is a good option for parents who would prefer not to spend time together but still want a full day with their child(ren).
  2. Give each parent half of each holiday. If you want to see your child(ren) on Christmas day or New Year’s but don't want to spend time with your co-parent, this is probably the best option.
  3. Share the holidays as a family. For amicable co-parents who don't mind spending time around and with each other, this is a great option that can help your children enjoy the holidays more fully. Depending on their age and maturity, however, you may have to emphasize that spending the holidays together is not an indication you will engage in a relationship with your co-parent or that spending time together as a family unit is consistent activity.

Discuss your options with your co-parent ahead of time. If you decide to do something different this year or for the foreseeable future, you may need to modify your existing custody order to make those changes legally binding.

At Gille Kaye Law Group, PC, we'll work with you to find the best path forward in an ongoing custody case or to help you modify your custody order.

To schedule a consultation with our team and learn more about our services, contact us online or via phone at (626) 340-0955.

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