Most of my divorce mediation clients want a flexible schedule when it comes to spending holiday time with their kids and I think that is great! However, it is usually a good idea to have a written “back up” schedule that can be followed if needed. Some tips that seem to work well for many families when developing their divorce parenting time schedules are:
- Remember the holidays are typically a special time for the kids and try to honor that
- Try to follow holiday traditions already in place. For example if Christmas Eve or the first night of Hanukkah is always spent at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, why not continue doing that?
- Maybe alternate New Year’s Eve every year. Some years it may be nice to see the ball drop with your toddlers – other years maybe it would be fun to go to that adult festivity (in which case you may not want to have a schedule that requires you to pick up the kids too early on New Year’s Day :))
- Try to be flexible if your ex needs a change in schedule – who knows when you will need the same courtesy extended
- When possible, spend holidays together – or at least your kids’ birthdays
- Have specific start and end times and dates for your holiday schedules so both parents know exactly what to expect and can plan accordingly
- Be fair
- Give as much notice as possible if you need to change your holiday plans
In mediation, we try to keep the focus is on what is going to be best for the whole family before, during and after a divorce. Ultimately, if everyone can keep the lines of communication open and honor each other’s role as parent to the children, the holidays can continue to be special family times where old traditions are honored and new customs are created.