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Holiday scheduling: Get your custody schedule right

The holidays are here, and it can be a difficult time of year for divorced parents. Custody arrangements may not always go as planned, which makes it harder to spend time with your children and to enjoy yourself.

When you make a custody schedule, it's important that you have every holiday, and how you want to handle it, marked down. For example, if you celebrate Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve, add those to the list and discuss how you'll share time with your children on those days.

If you celebrate longer events like Chinese New Year, it may be easier to split your time with your children. You should still discuss how you'd like to split the time, since there are a few important festival days where you may want to have them in your custody.

Should children get a say in the holiday schedule?

As your children get older, they may have a preference during the holidays. Still, it is important that you are respectful of yourself and the other parent. If your child wants to stay with you only because you have more money, for example, it's really not fair to allow them to every year. They should spend time in both homes, so long as there is no reason not to do so due to abuse or negligence.

On the other hand, if they would like to stay with dad because their only grandparent is getting older and they like seeing them, you may want to be a gracious parent and allow them to do so on the holiday itself. It's important that you pick your battles and remember that many events and celebrations take place on various days throughout the season. In most cases, parents will get time to enjoy the holidays with their kids, even if that time isn't spent on the day of the holiday itself.

Should you alternate years?

One good option for parents is to alternate years where you have custody on certain holidays. For example, you might alternate Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Eve each year. You could also try a skipping method, so that you share every other holiday with your children. This would typically result in alternating years and giving each parent a short amount of time with their children throughout important holiday seasons.

These are just a few ideas. Your attorney can talk to you more about methods that may work for you.

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